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The Album Leaf - In a Safe Place CD (album) cover


The Album Leaf


Post Rock/Math rock

3.93 | 30 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars I'm not really sure I understand the post-rock genre at all- it seems to be a huge umbrella term for a lot of disparate things. Sure, 'In A Safe Place' has the krautrock-influenced, touching on motorik percussion seen in 'Thule', and sure the emphasis throughout is on overall texture as with many post-rock bands, but with its violins and cello in tension with the drum machine later in the album it is worlds away from the guitar rambles of Explosions in the Sky. Its cold feel and restraint throughout divides it from the huge crescendos of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Post-rock is too nebulous a label entirely, so to be more specific I'd describe this as a curious strain of organic ambient post-rock, an infusion of classical instumentation and ambient synthesiser texturification set against jittery electronic drums.

Obviously this resulting hybrid owes a debt to SIGUR ROS with whom it was collaboratively made, with their trademark nonsense vocals even appearing on 'Over The Pond'. However they remain reined in by a more self-conscious LaValle and the result remains uniquely withdrawn and understated. Even the vocals add to this, they are more mumbled than sung out and the mixing often emphasises this- particularly on 'Eastern Glow' the vocals are constantly in danger of being drowned out. Whether by design or incompetence is largely irrelevant, the end result is a delicate foible wherein the words, any chance at a concrete description of narrative, is minimalised in favour of the atmospherics of the experience.

Throughout the second half of the album we see the skittery drum machine adding an edge to dreamy keyboards and soaring strings, a juxtaposition which creates a relaxed and ultimately accepting melancholia, particularly beautiful in 'Twenty Two Fourteen' and 'The Outer Banks'.

'Streamside' is the exception, as being unusually guitar-heavy gives it a much warmer feel than the rest of the album. Surrounding this track and again at the end of the album are strange inclusions of the musicians just talking, which gives the album an amateur, work-in-progress feel, complimenting the shaky vocals.

Not a roaring prog masterpiece by any means- so as much as I really like this album and consider it a fragile, pretty backdrop, a catalyst even to those deeply personal moments of just-having-a-quiet-think, I am somewhat baffled by its inclusion on this site. Three stars.

simbelmyne | 3/5 |


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