The Album Leaf
performing with Sister Crayon
The Album Leaf is the creation of classically trained pianist Jimmy LaValle (b. San Diego, California, USA). His unusual recording moniker is apparently derived from a Chopin composition. Prior to, and alongside the Album Leaf, serial music-maker LaValle has been involved in GoGoGo Airheart, instrumental rock outfit Tristeza, noise punks the Locusts and ‘epic-core' atmosphericists Black Heart Procession. His 1999 debut as the Album Leaf, An Orchestrated Rise To Fall, was written, arranged and performed almost exclusively by LaValle. Both this album and the follow-up, One Day I'll Be On Time, took LaValle's guitar playing as their primary focus, with other instruments such as bass, drums and violin employed sparingly to help flesh out the Album Leaf's pretty atmospherica.
LaValle was subsequently invited to record in the Sundlaugin studios, Mosfellsbaer by Sigur Rós, whom he had befriended on the Icelandic band's first American tour (apparently after they heard One Day I'll Be On Time). LaValle described the experience of recording his third (and most fully realised) album, 2004's In A Safe Place, as akin to being on Mars. Mapping the space between minimal electronic music and melancholic instrumental post-rock, In A Safe Place drew on LaValle's past works but was simultaneously inspired by the seemingly alien topography of the album's host country (LaValle even going so far as to name a track ‘Thule' - the ancient Greek and Latin name for a land six days sail north of Britain, supposed to be the most Northerly region in the world). The album coalesced with input from members of Sigur Rós (including vocalist Jón Por Birgisson), Black Heart Procession's Pall Jenkins and former Múm cellist Gyda Valtysdóttir.