This may be the last one of these I do, but I feel the time is right. Leaf is a label that's been good to me this week, and I am now in receipt of some records of their's which are really, really good. Note to the general public: it's now acceptable to use the prefix ke- in front of words to signify "really really", so in fact Leaf are actually a kecool label, with loads of kecool stuff and a keexcellent ethos.
Anyway. Leaf are probably best known for their electronic and experimental acts, but these are no man's bland, samey techno, these are some seriously interesting, talented artistes: if you ever find yourself calling into question the validity of electronic music - as compared to, say, the more organic strains of post-rock kinds of things, or if you consider that it's too earnest to be real pop music when you could be listening to, for instance, some greasy rock'n'roll - Leaf is where you should head. Their nice website has lots of helpful audio and video to download, however if you're the old-fashioned type that likes something to hold in your hand, try Delivery Room, a superb sampler showcasing the delights of artists such as A Hawk & A Hacksaw, Icarus, Manitoba and Clue To Kalo, by whom you'll find some music at the bottom of the post.
Although I'd have to invest more time than I have to give each artist the time they deserve, from those that I've investigated the ethic behind the label seems to be to pick out only the finest, most innovative and experimental artists, but more specifically those that can combine this far-out experimentalism with a common touch, that drags the music back from the realms of the artfully/willfully unlistenable (such as you might find on, say, Rephlex) and back into the world where the artist connects with the listener on an emotional and intellectual level.
The label started in 1994 at the hands of Tony Morley, previously a press officer with the lovely 4AD, initially just to press a thousand copies of a Boymerang 12". It blossomed with a devotion not just to music but to artwork as well, clearly something that must have impressed Morley at 4AD, well-known for it's excellent designs. The label has since worked with v23 design (I've met them, you know).
It's a forward-looking label devoted to new music, and has achieved pretty much global success due to the popularity of one Dan Snaith of Caribou (formerly Manitoba) fame, who has released three gloriously exciting albums for the label.
So, although the stickers on the front of 'The Milk Of Human Kindness' say LEAF IS TEN, I actually make that 12 years old now, and long may they continue. I have here a track named 'As Tommy Fixes Fights' by one of my favourite Leaf acts, Clue To Kalo: http://s60.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3078JCPWEM3092AZOCDJLT90TN