Jennifer Gentle - The Midnight Room

It isn't easy to put one's finger on what it is that's so deeply weird about this music. It sounds like it could be soundtrack to a Dario Argentio comedy, if such a thing can be imagined.

 

Jennifer Gentle – The Midnight Room

http://www.subpop.com/ http://www.konkurrent.nl/

 

A keyboard drone and singing that's almost Gregorian. A plucked electric guitar that sounds like Labradford trying to do a fifties rock-a-billy number. More wordless singing and the drone...Twin Ghosts is a quietly mad track and a pretty apposite way to introduce Jennifer Gentle's second Sub Pop album, The Midnight Room.

 

As is often the way these days the band name is a misnomer - there is no Jennifer Gentle. The band is actually the solo project of one Marco Fasolo and he created the album alone in his studio in Northern Italy. There's something deeply crackers about the whole thing. Telephone Ringing sounds like Link Wray was given the job of writing fairground music. Except there's a weird vocal in a strange accent warbling over the top of it. I guess the vocals are Fasolo's as they continue on the next track, It's In Her Eyes, as do the old-school electric guitar sounds. It isn't easy to put one's finger on what it is that's so deeply weird about this music. It sounds like it could be soundtrack to a Dario Argentio comedy, if such a thing can be imagined. Despite the American style guitar sounds it's defiantly European and perhaps bears the influence of Morricone's psychedelic experiments.

 

Take My Hand is a baroque stomp whilst Electric Princess is poppy in an early sixties way – it's no surprise that Fasolo is working on the soundtrack to a movie about Joe Meek. The ghost of Meek, and of Telstar, hangs over some of these tracks. Not least the version of Telstar to be found on Songs in the Key of Z where Meek's ineffectual and out of tune warbling can be heard over it.

 

And yet there's nothing ostensibly so deeply weird about the whole thing. Chiming old-school guitars, drums and occasional keyboards create three minute pop songs of sorts. And yet, and yet. Imagine a late sixties Italian horror film set at night in a deserted mansion. And then imagine Cliff Richard and Melvyn Hayes starring in it. That's the level we're operating on here. Especially when we get onto deeply odd tracks such as Mercury Blood and Granny's House. The latter actually does sound rather disturbing and could be from a proper horror film.

 

It's not the Kaiser Chiefs then, and for that at least we should be truly thankful. I can't honestly tell if it's absolutely great or absolutely awful but I tend to think that in such cases you should err towards the former. But then again...

 

Words: Chris Dawson