On their previous self-titled album, Labradford was stuck in the middle of a wintry wasteland, listening to sound of ice floes melting and the wind whipping and strumming the telephone wires. On their newest effort, Mi Media Naranja, Labradford moves into the desert, with this soundtrack for driving down dirt highways and through abandoned towns with the word “gulch” in their name. Mi Media Naranja is a beautiful record that is much more pleasant to listen to than their previous efforts. The cold, experimental touches the trio worked into their music are still there, but subdued and downplayed.
Mi Media Naranja is also a much more cinematic album. The first two tracks sound like the theme to an extremely cool western film. The first track consists of a sparse, desert-like guitar melody and lovely organs. Then a haunting violin melody and rapid drumbeat kick in, pushing the song on and on. The second track is more of the same, except the violin is replaced with a forlorn slide guitar and the drums are replaced by rhythmic bursts of static.
Part of the reason this album sounds so cinematic is the virtual lack of vocals. Before, Labradford’s music always featured offbeat, stream of consciousness lyrics, sung/whispered underneath the chilly music. On Mi Media Naranja the vocals come in the forms of static‑y washes and snippets of children laughing, like Labradford eavesdropped on some CB communication or tapped the telephone wires in dying town.
My favorite track is the probably the third one, which might be a distant cousin to “Pico,” my favorite track on their previous release. The most noticeable piece of this song is the beautiful, gentle organ melody. More sparse percussion and guitars can be heard, while the bass provides a harsh counterpart to the organ. Distorted, faraway snippets of children’s vocals, radio transmissions, and satellite-like pulses are also filtered throughout the piece that’s a soundtrack for a faraway glance.
The next track is something to listen to out under the stars, in some roofless club. Gentle, vibrating tones and crystalline vibes sound out like the sparkling stars, while the melody sounds almost lounge-ish, in a celestial sort of way. Something to sip martinis to, while looking through your telescope, perhaps?
Labradford has done a wonderful job, moving away from the “isolationist” ambience of their early stuff, which I still don’t really care for. That stuff sounds almost juvenile and sloppy when compared to their newest stuff. They’ve really created a beautiful piece here that manages to be sparse and minimal while remaining emotional and moving. There’s still a distant, faraway slant to their music, but it’s one that invites you to join them where they are. My advice? Go with them and leave everything else behind.