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In a Safe Place

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Album Review

With the news that Jimmy LaValle's solo project the Album Leaf had recorded an LP for Sub Pop at the same studio in Mosfellsbaer, Iceland, previously placed on the musical map by Sigur Rós (and including several members of the band in tow), indie fans began to imagine a transatlantic version of the Postal Service, perfectly ripe for crossover one year after the Postal Service's Sub Pop debut, Give Up, ruled the college charts. LaValle's first two full-lengths as the Album Leaf were gorgeous and meditative, putting him in perfect company with Sigur Rós; his best pieces, including "Wet the Day" from One Day I'll Be On Time, possessed a quiet, unchanging stillness that neatly connected the dots between ambient legends Claude Debussy, Cluster, Roger Eno, Oval, and Sigur Rós themselves. In a Safe Place, however, includes no magic to compare to his earlier work. The album is exactly the sum of its parts, perhaps less and definitely no more. LaValle retains his heavily textural, impressionist flair, but has begun to repeat himself heavily, with none of the freshness or vigor of previous material. He also sacrifices nearly all of the record's precious atmosphere by insisting on a basic drum kit track to drive many of the tracks (though later in the record, he turns to a skittery digital percussion that favors these songs). Only one piece hints at the record's full power, "Over the Pond," on which LaValle plays a simple, slightly changing Satie line on keyboards while the full Sigur Rós trio are heard for the first time, playing up their brand of studied melancholy with help from cello and violin. The only other notable success is "On Your Way," which features LaValle with Pall Jenkins, his collaborator in the Black Heart Procession.

Customer Reviews

Dear God.

Incredible. An absolute must buy, a great feel-good album. Changes your life. This album seriously and honestly made me wish for once that my life had a soundtrack. This would be it. I love it. Get the full CD, and listen to it non-stop until you realize how music has changed and how unbelievably great this CD is. Get it, listen to it, grasp it, and tell the world about it. Hands down best album I've heard in a while.


There are a lot of bands out now that don't rely on vocals to move the listener. Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, Unwed Sailor, etc. This album is as introspective and thoughtful as Sigur Ros's offerings, as lyrical-without-lyrics as Unwed Sailor, and at times as catchy as Explosions in the Sky. It is complex and distant enough to sustain repeated listening, and accessible enough that you will like it after the first time through. I think the best track is "Thule", but they are all quite good.

most amazing

it changes you if you listen hard, and you dont even have to translate words. one of my favorite artist. nice to do homework too, run too, paint, whatever, and when your done you hear the music still playing and you feel, or at least I feel somthing that i cant explain, and theirs no need to try. so try a couple songs, and then the rest of their albums.


Formed: 1999 in San Diego, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Album Leaf began as the solo project of Jimmy LaValle, a San Diego-based songwriter who started recording solo material one year after forming the post-rock band Tristeza. Inspired by a number of genres -- classical, jazz, and post-rock among them -- LaValle constructed his own songs in a similarly eclectic manner, utilizing everything from ambient noise to field recordings to radio transmissions. An Orchestrated Rise to Fall introduced the resulting sound in 1999. An EP (In an Off White Room)...
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