Mansun ask for fan's help to decide on album tracklisting
Nick Mills
17:44 8th July 2004

three stars

The Album LeafSan Diego’s Jimmy LaValle (also found in Tristeza and The Black Heart Procession) accepted offers from his mates in Sigur Ros and Mum to travel to their native Iceland and record his latest LP, 'In a Safe Place'.  The Album Leaf is the alias LaValle has used for his instrumental solo work since 1999.

In a Safe Place is a mood dependent album, an introspective account of a city-dwelling American finding shelter in the pleasant, spacious terrain of a strange foreign land.  Depending on what you’re up to, or how your day has gone, makes all the difference when sampling LaValle’s serene blend of keyboard, smartly timed drumming and a perfect measure of cellos, violins and bells.  This is, (yawn), excuse me, some very sleepy shit, but it’s got a soothing quality that’s perfect for say, a hangover or heavy traffic or, I don’t know, camping…

The first two tracks, ‘Window’ and ‘Thule’, thoroughly outline the album’s theme of drowsy Icelandic ambience with Lavalle’s ever so slight insertion of rock.  For the first time ever, Jimmy Lavalle has added vocals! The Album Leaf’s singing debut, ‘On your way’, is a good song that’s unfortunately been soiled by his uncertain, scratchy, hung-over Bob Dylan type voice.  However, by hushing his pipes a bit and not holding notes so painfully long, Lavalle almost redeems the decision to add vocals to the mix on ‘Eastern Glow’.  The whole album transitions beautifully from track to track, which is a testament to LaValle’s production prowess.  The man has been labelled stateside’s “Sound Scientists”, and this Icelandic invention convincingly backs that claim.