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Album Review

Italian duo Jennifer Gentle join Baby Lemonade and Gigolo Aunts in the small coterie of groups that have taken their names from the work of Syd Barrett. Unlike the others, though, both decidedly power pop rockers, the dedication goes a bit beyond just a name here. Marco Fasolo's voice shares the same edgy nasal quality as Barrett and the music he makes along with Alessio Gastaldello often bears the distinct imprint of a late-'60s psychedelic boot heel. Valende is their third album, fourth if you count 2003's Wrong Cage, a meeting between the band and Makoto Kawabata, and it continues their coy buzzing psychedelic expeditions. Only a few songs on Valende point overtly in the direction of Barrett: "Universal Daughter," the excellent freakbeat rave-up "I Do Dream You," and the album finale, "Nothing Makes Sense," which is so rife with pixie vocals and echo that it might as well be an outtake from Piper at the Gates of Dawn (that is both a compliment and a criticism). The rest of the album is full of shimmering folk touched with the everyday exotica of kazoos, squeaking balloons, slide whistles, bells, and xylophone. One such track, "The Garden, Pt. 1," is separated from its companion, "The Garden, Pt. 2," by "Hessesopoa," an extended freak-out, also of the late-'60s variety, centered around crashing cymbals and organ clusters. As familiar as the psychedelic reference points may be, Jennifer Gentle are able to distill them into something contemporary, or at least make listeners feel like contemporaries of a psychedelic era, both past and present.


Formed: 1999 in Padua, Italy

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Though most young Italian underground rock bands circa 2000 expressed an open sonic infatuation (like many other groups of their age elsewhere) with Anglo-American post-rock -- often sleepily so -- Jennifer Gentle showed that there was more going on than playing Slint to death. Formed in 1999 in Padua, Jennifer Gentle originally formed as a duo, with 19-year-old Marco Fasolo as vocalist/guitarist and Alessio Gastaldello on drums. The band later expanded to a four-piece with multi-instrumentalist...
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Valende, Jennifer Gentle
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