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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous....
Californian pianist and composer Jimmy Lavalle has been knocking out moody experimental recordings since 1999. For this latest album he teamed up with a bunch of Icelandic musicians and headed to the frozen north. The change of scene obviously did him good. "In a Safe Place" is a characteristically mellow, brooding set of soundscapes, with the addition of vocals, more...
Published on 4 Dec 2004 by jallanr

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Playing it "Safe"
Fans beware -- the Album Leaf takes a different direction in "In A Safe Place." Jimmy LaValle takes a voyage into Sigur Ros's turf, experimenting with pop tunes and ambient meanderings. The resulting music is ethereally pretty, but not terribly memorable.
It opens with a delicately ambient tune that runs a little too long, before shifting into a sort of airy,...
Published on 25 Feb 2006 by E. A Solinas


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous...., 4 Dec 2004
This review is from: In A Safe Place (Audio CD)
Californian pianist and composer Jimmy Lavalle has been knocking out moody experimental recordings since 1999. For this latest album he teamed up with a bunch of Icelandic musicians and headed to the frozen north. The change of scene obviously did him good. "In a Safe Place" is a characteristically mellow, brooding set of soundscapes, with the addition of vocals, more traditional song structures, and occasional understated electronics. The result is a captivating CD, which is more accessible and somehow more affecting than his earlier works. At times haunting and melancholy, at others gently uplifting and anthemic the songs on this album are often spellbinding. The gorgeous "Another Day" with its type-writer beats, swooning strings and sprinkling of piano is worth the cover price alone.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new leaf, 22 Oct 2004
This review is from: In A Safe Place (Audio CD)
This album is the best so far from Jimmy Lavelle aka The Album Leaf. It is certainly the most intelligent work he has produced and this can be atrributed to the fact that there are several memebers of the excellent Sigur Ros guesting here. The use of some beautiful violins and rasping vocals on 'Over the Pond' is undeniably heavily influenced by the Icelandic group, it is definitelt the best track on the album. Yet, we must not take credit away from Mr. Lavelle, it is his excellence that shines through on the record. Slightly less electronic than his other work he embraces a wide range of wind and string instruments and what he leaves us with is an album that is pure bliss. Close your eyes and listen. The Album Leaf has produced a musical kalaidoscope. You should get the rest of his work, sit back and enjoy. If you like this you're certain to like Manitoba and Four Tet, more beautiful electronica.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serene but certainly not tedious, 30 Mar 2008
By 
Piers Moktan "Piers Moktan" (Khorsor Elephant Stable, Nepal) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In A Safe Place (Audio CD)
Something of a chance discovery, this is an absolutely gorgeous record, which reminds me why you shouldn't always trust reviewers. According to what I first encountered about `In A Safe Place' by The Album Leaf, the solo project of Jimmy LaValle, this was supposedly a rather mediocre and uninteresting record. What did intrigue me however was that it had been recorded in Iceland with members of Sigur Ros and The Black Heart Procession (with whom he also plays), and that it was an exercise in ambient, classically-infused post-rock featuring string arrangements and subtle electronic effects. Well, these are the type of sounds which have been engaging me over the past few years, so I thought it worth at least a trial, test listen. And that sold it to me.

There was something else though that also made me curious. I know times have changed, but hearing such delicate, intricately produced sounds as these on Sub Pop- a label that came to define the Seattle-based, lo-fi, grungey garage rock revival of the late 80s/early 90s came as a bit of a shock. After all, I was there when Mudhoney, Soundgarden and Nirvana were the in-thing, even seeing Nirvana perform in London with Godflesh and L7 before they skyrocketed to major-label, world-dominating fame. Sub Pop has clearly changed, not letting its legendary past constrain its future, and has gone onto nurture new and different sounds, including the wonders of `In A Safe Place'.

At times, that signature Scandinavian sound is evident- cheerfully melancholic music that evokes a bleak arctic world from which people shelter in warm and comforting enclaves. Echoes of Sigur Ros can definitely be heard making a worthy contribution, but under LaValle's supervision something rather more accessible emerges- it's more recognisably `human' and not nearly so bizarre and other-worldly as Sigur Ros can be (no offence intended). And while LaValle utilises an updated, more orchestrated version of the early 70s electronic ambient music of Cluster and Eno, it is almost always propelled by a gently skittering programmed percussive base. And this in turn is further enriched by melodies of strings, bells, Rhodes piano and strategically understated vocals (sometimes of the intelligible variety, sometimes of that soothing and beguiling style so typical of Sigur Ros). All in all, this makes for an enthralling album, which for me, has stood the test of other music clamouring for my attention. When I need something to instil a mellow state of contemplation, this is one of my favoured choices. Beautiful.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, 6 Jun 2005
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This review is from: In A Safe Place (Audio CD)
i saw the album leaf (well technically it was just jimmy and a laptop) support Sigur Ros a couple of years ago at the Hammersmith. I remember the music was nice enough, but with so many samples being played and only the one 'live' part, it was quite difficult to get into and consequently, the only memory i took away from his performance was the only words he said: "Good evening, im the album leaf" and "Thanks, i was the album leaf"
a year later i saw a promo copy of this album in my local record swapshop, and bought it on the whim. Besides, maybe itd have some Sigur Ros on it.
this album is beautiful. for about a month i listened to nothing else. if you like Sigur Ros or other art/prog/post-rock bands, chances are you'll like this. the musicians involved (jimmy, sigur ros and their string quartet, i think) manage to weave their beautiful sonic textures around jimmy's songs, which are a lot more 'pop' in structure and substance than anything in the art/prog/post world. theres also quite a bit of programmed percussion, with some lapses into clix/cuts territory. one song (Over the Pond, i think) features Jonsi from Sigur Ros on vocals, plus his keyboard sampler that he uses on (), so fans of the icelandic noise-musicians will feel completely at home.
ultimately just get it, because i cant begin to describe how perfect it is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime and one-of-a-kind, 9 Feb 2012
This review is from: In A Safe Place (Audio CD)
There is nothing about this album that I dislike; there is never a time when I am not in the mood to listen to it and I doubt there'll be another like it. The blend of electronic sounds and acoustic instruments and the balance between the scattered beats and the build up of layers is breath-taking. Cannot recommend this CD highly enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ambient-ish excellent-definitely, 27 May 2011
By 
tallmanbaby (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In A Safe Place (MP3 Download)
This is an instrumental album in a vaguely ambient style. I have heard tracks used quite a few times on soundtracks, indeed that is how I came across it. I loved the backing track to a video podcast and tracked down the artist.

This album could well become the go-to source for moody evocative soundtracks, taking some of the weight off the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Phillip Glass and Brian Eno.

I think Window and TwentyTwoFourteen are probably the best tracks, but it is a strong album overall.

If you are still in doubt track down the video Up There on Vimeo a surprisingly interesting short documentary about people who paint adverts on New York walls with an Album Leaf soundtrack.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Playing it "Safe", 25 Feb 2006
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In A Safe Place (Audio CD)
Fans beware -- the Album Leaf takes a different direction in "In A Safe Place." Jimmy LaValle takes a voyage into Sigur Ros's turf, experimenting with pop tunes and ambient meanderings. The resulting music is ethereally pretty, but not terribly memorable.
It opens with a delicately ambient tune that runs a little too long, before shifting into a sort of airy, ambient-edged pop music that meanders over pretty little paths. Songs like "Thule" have a settled crystalline quality, while some songs like "The Outer Banks" are a bit more experimental, mixing the rippling melody with rat-a-tat percussion.
"In a Safe Place" was recorded in Iceland, the land of Sigur Ros, Mum, Bjork and Emiliana Torrini. As a result, the influence of Iceland is heavy here (just check the instrumental credits!). It even sounds a bit like Iceland -- LaValle's music sounds airy, eerie and icy. At its top moments, this album is simply enchanting, but at others it feels like LaValle has overstretched himself.
The music itself is sweet and simple -- sometimes deceptively so. More ordinary instruments like drums and guitar are mellowed out by the glockenspiel, keyboards, cello and violins. In many songs, the instrumentation weaves itself into airy tapestries. But other songs like "Another Day" don't fully gel. They sound like two incompatible melodies laid over each other, one sputtery pop and one ambient.
The Sigur Ros influence is strongest in "Over the Pond," where Jon Thor Birgisson (Jonsi) solemnly sings in his falsetto voice. Some grittier vocals come in with Pall Jenkins of Black Heart Procession, who doesn't sound entirely comfortable against the light, tinkly music.
The Album Leaf tries out the Icelandic sound with mixed result in "In A Safe Place." This pretty, lightweight music may be safe, but to make great music, you have to take a few risks.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant listen, 8 Nov 2004
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M. Brown (Cardiff United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In A Safe Place (Audio CD)
But there's really nothing much of substance here. Sigur Ros fans should own it for the contributions that Jonsi and Kjartan make. Jonsi sings his usual child-like nonsense on Over The Pond, duetting with his own weird vocal samples, concocting in the process a warm and lovely little sing-song. The other two 'songs' featured on the album are okay, but predictable. I would have preferred a completely instrumental album apart from the Jonsi moment. My feeling is that none of the instrumental tracks last long enough to make a real impression. It would have been good if the pretty final piece, Moss Mountain Town, had gone on for twice as long as it does, same goes for the opener, Window. This album is like a sugar confection . . . light, pleasant, gone in a moment.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, 12 Nov 2007
By 
Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In A Safe Place (Audio CD)
I first discovered The Album Leaf via the Sigur Ros website, where they posted an MP3 of "Streamside" from this album, which I thought was wonderful. The rest of the album follows the same template - nothing over walking pace, lots of keyboards, skittering percussion - but on occasion the gorgeous instrumentals give way to proper songs, and bless him but the singer hasn't got the greatest voice. I'd definitely recommend that people give The Album Leaf a go, but the instrumental tracks are far, far better than the vocal ones, which is why I'm not giving that extra star here.
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2 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a safe place, 12 July 2004
This review is from: In A Safe Place (Audio CD)
This album is a must have for any fans of bands such as Sigur ros, Mogwai and Mum. By far the best album so far from "the album leaf". Higlights include "Thule", "Twenty two fourteen", "Over the pond" (vocals from member of sigur ros) and "Another day".
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In A Safe Place
In A Safe Place by The Album Leaf (Audio CD - 2004)
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