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Jennifer Gentle: Valende

Jennifer Gentle: Valende

Label:Sub Pop
Genre:Psychedelia/Space Rock

By Michael Alan Goldberg | Posted 6/1/2005

Syd Barrett isn’t dead, as you probably know. But he’s not squirreled away in the English countryside anymore, either. Nope, he relocated to Padova, Italy, where he found a new basement (or rabbit hole). There, his mescaline-fried brain split into two personalities—23-year-old Marco Fasolo and 30-year-old Alessio Gastaldello—subsequently assumed the moniker Jennifer Gentle (from a lyric that appears in “Lucifer Sam,” the second track on Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn), and proceeded to pick up where he left off nearly four decades ago, crafting more chimerical psychedelia for stoners, ‘shroomers, and tab-dabblers to watch their own limbs slowly melt to.

Don’t believe it? You will after listening to Valende, the third album ostensibly from these two Italian singers and multi-instrumentalists. Within the first 45 seconds of opener “Universal Daughter” you’ll hear elastic electric guitar twang give way to lazy seaside acoustic strums, a few cymbal splashes, a smiling shrug of a bass line, and kazoos like a cloud of benevolent bumblebees. Oh, and a nitrous-oxided Brit-folkie voice offering pleasingly sounding, fairly inscrutable lyrics—about popsicles, goats, and TV screens, maybe. “I Do Dream You” is peppier, with guitar ’n’ organ riffs and—what else?—a brief solo fashioned from the squawk of helium rushing out of a balloon. The drowsy, wooden-fluted “Circles of Sorrow” marks the best time to gather cross-legged round the hookah. Beware of the seven-minute, free-form midpoint “Hessesopoa,” though; those chattering demon groans and Farfisa somersaults are the stuff of acid trips that’d freak out even Dennis Hopper. From there, the rest is relatively placid enough to ease you out of the nightmare (though not all the way back to reality). “Nothing Makes Sense”—Valende’s fittingly titled, chipmunk-vocaled garage closer—drops you off at London’s Marquee club circa 1966 and waves goodbye, and you’ll swear you just spent the past 45 minutes in the company of the laughing madcap himself.

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