Pre-dawn is absolutely my most favorite time of day. Not even the prospect of “work” as my destination can take away the simple and relaxing pleasure of a drive in the slowly surfacing morning. Now that I live in Washington state, that joy is now multiplied. Besides the stillness and quiet of a crisp daybreak, I have the added bonus of extending landscapes of green. The clouds in the overcast sky act as a giant sun scrim and noise buffer. Most times, I feel that the intrusion of a CD will ruin what soothing ambient noise surrounds me, the gentle purr of the car’s motor, the hum of the wheels meeting the most minute grooves in the road and the slight splashy displacement of water from the evening’s condensation. Even NPR and the subtle smacking of saliva in the commentator’s mouths as they speak can be enough to ruin a perfectly good morning. It is times like these that I thank the heavens for the Album Leaf.
The Album Leaf, aka Jimmy LaValle, reached the hearts of many an indie music fan upon his tour with Sigur Ros. Inspired by his tourmates, LaValle traveled to Iceland to record in Sigur’s studio, and the result was the masterful In a Safe Place. Since then, introspective daydreamers like myself have been searching for other Album Leaf recordings, including a Spain-only release, Seal Beach, put out by the Acuarela label. Statesiders rejoice! We now have our own very special version of the Seal Beach EP, in this form practically an album. Rather than the original five songs found on the Spanish version, the US EP contains four of the five songs original, a bonus track, and five live recordings from the tour with Sigur Ros. (Members of the Icelandic band actually play on a few of the live songs). A lot of albums in my collection don’t even have ten songs, yet this “EP” does.
LaValle’s moody and ethereal keyboard-processed music is the perfect mood music and great for driving. Unlike the interactive vocal music I usually listen to, the Album Leaf, rather than inviting participation, invites meditation, reflection, calmness and tranquility. One tends to let the world wash away while listening, which, in itself can lessen the tendency to road rage. If only every car came issued with copies of the Album Leaf’s recordings, the world would and its roads would be safer.
The Album Leaf- In a Safe Place
Sigur Ros- ( )
Brian Eno- Ambient 1: Music For Airports