The Hammer    11-August-2002 Labradford - Mi Media Naranja

Labradford is a three-piece instrumental post-rock group that creates very sparse and ambient compositions that do a lot with a little. On this album, they are augmented with the presence of a small string section. Don't be fooled, however - this isn't a move toward a fuller symphonic sound. Rather, their sound is still typified by ringing guitar notes and sustained keyboard passages, and the strings simply serve a supporting role. Labradford had shown to be capable of creating interesting sound textures in previous albums, but this effort sees the band put those soundscapes together in a solid, cohesive whole.

Destined to become the soundtrack to many people's lonely experiences, Mi Media Naranja walks a razor's edge between creepy and serene, at times managing to be both. There are no builds to stunning climaxes like Godspeed You Black Emperor! here, but rather a seemingly continuous flow of moody, ambient pieces. Mi Media Naranja instills a very lonely feeling in the listener, invoking emotional reactions that teeter between a feeling of cold isolation and warm solitude.

Fitting in somewhere between their post-rock contemporaries and ambient artists such as Steve Roach, Labradford's music is very rewarding to a listener in the right frame of mind. It's an album that requires listeners to lie down on the couch, close their eyes, and allow themselves to float away on a cloud through a world of reverb. Mi Media Naranja takes the standard post-rock "ringing" guitar, weaves it around ambient organ and Fender Rhodes piano drones, and sprinkles sampled percussion, sound effects, and even voices on top.

I have heard precious few albums that are as stirringly beautiful as this disc. To put it simply, this is one of the best post-rock albums I've had the pleasure to enjoy. It's one of those albums where you don't want to hear ANYTHING else while you're listening to it (save maybe for the soft sounds of rain outside your window). While it won't appeal to the "chops" crowds, post-rock fans (as well as prog fans with a taste for ambient) are implored to purchase this immediately. It's only $11 (shipping included) directly from Kranky. Cough up the money. You don't really need to eat dinner tonight.

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