CD, Suspicious, 2005
“Made Into Itself” is haunting and subliminal. With its chilled-down and tripped-out experimental hip-hop/trip-hop, the debut album from Leaf (on Hive Records sublabel, Suspicious) has little difficulty finding a place among familiar Anticon and Warp peers. Instrumental constructions with a smattering of sampling, singing, spoken-word and abstract lyricism, “Made Into Itself” is a magnum opus – an actualization of city-gazing solitude and rain on glass, crackling and humming with yesterday’s grainy lo-fi wash. It is music for grimy sunsets and long empty blocks, windblown train yards and worn velvet barstools.
Though the self-aggrandizing sermons on “Intelligent Design” and “Lounge Dealers” subtract substance from the album, these vainglorious distractions only add to its charm in the end. Effortlessly Leaf captivates the listener with a solid collection of densely melodic, soulful tracks, mesmerizing textures and mournful strings. Some tracks seem cut short (the slow fade in “Light Blue Morning”); perhaps a nod to the production’s gritty, unfinished aesthetic. Longest is the album’s closing “Song of Trees,” made possible by a hidden track well worth the wait.
Never content to simply be the soundtrack for a hands-in-your-pockets, malt-liquor-and-cigarettes chilly urban morning, “Made Into Itself” wanders through a few stylistic tangents with admirable result. The copacetic, acid groove of “Glitch Exercise” hails its IDM brethren, while “Full Booklet” kicks the beat back to the beginnings of intelligent drum ‘n bass with an easy, street-wise pace. A natural compliment to violins and mandolins are the languid, honey-dipped vocals on “Prism” and “Even Holy Things Die.” Thankfully “Made Into Itself” never fails to maintain its defining darker undercurrents, where key instruments, soporific chords and intelligent loops exude a pervasive and melancholy glow.
— Dutton Hauhart