The package is immediately endearing: a handcrafted wooden box with a wooden medallion. But the musical contents are even more impressive. A smooth, piano-laden album, Became a Leaf seems destined to become a fall classic. Don’t worry about the fact that it’s winter now, as fall will come around again. (Sooner than you think in Australia.)
Memum is David Georgos, who also records as Locoto. His Awakine EP was a bit more vocal and percussive, but his two projects can still be identified as one as they share many of the same instruments ~ in particular the glockenspiel that makes its first appearance on the title track of the later work. Each of these incarnations is calm, positive, and life-affirming; Became a Leaf is simply the more pastoral.
The repeated male/female vocal lines draw an instant comparison to bvdub. When the remixes kick in during the second half, the association is cemented. “Tell me what it’s like”, sings Georgos on the opening track, augmented by an occasional surge of female vox and a neighboring stream. In “Lapse of Evolving Time”, vinyl crackle provides the texture, while waves of ambience provide the mood. One can imagine these forming the foundation of a 21st century Buddha Bar compilation. Their edges are crisp, their timbres are bright. One’s mind is drawn to the image of the leaf, as well as the title. A sprout becomes a leaf; a leaf becomes mulch; mulch becomes feed; from the feed sprouts a tree.
The only thing Georgos needs to watch is an overuse of birdsong. These samples feature strongly on numerous tracks, and threaten to overwhelm them with twee. The musicianship is strong enough that he can do without them. This is most apparent in the closing minute of “Under the Grove”, which is pure piano (with a tiny tape wobble and a glistening of glockenspiel).
Henrik José, Hior Chronik, and Noemi Bolojan provide remix duties on the three closing tracks. Each differs from the original in a significant fashion. Amplified handclaps, deeper bass and miked ivories are the hallmarks of these new creations, which lend the album a cyclical nature suited to its subject. Just as one presses a leaf in a book in order to admire it in subsequent seasons, so we suspect we’ll be saving this album for the onset of autumn ~ although it’s a fine accompaniment to winter as well. (Richard Allen)