ABOVE: IN THE VALLEY BELOW’S ANGELA GAIL (LEFT) AND JEFFREY JACOB
“We mostly make music that we would want to listen to,” quips vocalist Angela Gail, one half of the Echo Park, Los Angeles-based duo In The Valley Below. Indeed, the group’s swirling vocals, staunch synthesizers and melancholic, sexy desperation are incredibly endearing, and, frankly, catchy. Gail, who performs with guitarist and co-vocalist Jeffrey Jacob, drew musical inspiration from her time living at sea in the West Indies, and the dreamy, otherworldly nature of the duo’s first single, “Take Me Back,” is entirely reminiscent of the vastness of the open ocean. Though the Beach House comparisons are probably inevitable, The Valley Below takes a decidedly West Coast approach to the illusory, astral-pop genre. The music is notably light, sunny, and, well, beachy.
The band’s debut video, for “Take Me Back,” is the first installment in a two-part series, directed by French avant-garde filmmaker Laurent Michel Moreau. The video is part ’70s frontier miniseries, part digitized 16-mm art film, and part ’60s psychedelia, featuring lushly layered images of time-lapsed blooming flora and awkwardly animated birds kaleidoscoping with the sepia-tinged singers in period costume.
Its narrative follows a vague trajectory. A woman, played by Gail, is with a group of what appear to be pioneers, following a dirt road and toting luggage. At some point, she strays from the group, and discovers a body (Jeffrey), shot and killed by a river. She appears shocked by her discovery, but then rests her own body next to the corpse, gazing tenderly at his cold, dead visage.
Spooky? A little. But completely on par with the dense surrealist streak that the band’s music and video envelop. And as the video ends, and the camera pulls away from Gail prying a cup from the hands of her dead bandmate, we’re totally on board, totally immersed in the thick, lovely melodies, and totally ready for Part II.
IN THE VALLEY BELOW BEGINS ITS MONTHLONG RESIDENCY AT LOS ANGELES’ BOOTLEG THEATER TONIGHT. THE DUO’S DEBUT ALBUM IS SET TO DROP IN EARLY 2013. FOR MORE ON IN THE VALLEY BELOW, VISIT ITS FACEBOOK PAGE.