Jennifer Gentle, The Midnight Room

Jennifer Gentle, The Midnight Room

I recently caught Jennifer Gentle live at the Proletariat. They sound nothing like their albums, and this is maybe a good thing. Radiohead does this, as well, with arrangements for live shows that differ substantially from their recorded music. Frankly, I was blown away by the difference: I had been listening to The Midnight Room quite a bit, not so much because I had fallen in love with it, but really just trying to figure out what the hell it was.

The spiritual and songwriting core of Jennifer Gentle is Marco Fasolo, a hermit isolated in an abandoned schoolhouse in northern Italy, giving birth to a sound and songwriting sensibility that is nothing like you have probably heard. The Midnight Room sounds like, well, Munchkin music. Guitars play melody-following single-note riffs to reinforce the reverb-soaked pinched-nose vocals, jazzy drums follow along with echo-y, light fills, and myriad other instruments swoop in and out to create a dreamy lushness that is equal parts screwy and hypnotic. From the kazoo intro of “Mercury Blood” that devolves into almost ’60s psychedelica (complete with meandering guitar noodles) to the atonal backyard percussion of “Granny’s House” to the frightening march of “Telephone Ringing,” Jennifer Gentle has managed to create a wholly unique sound that is both interesting and, frankly, a bit unnerving.

For all its strangeness, however, the songs are surprisingly listenable, feeling more like the soundtrack to a middle-of-the-night wacked-out late-’70s sci-fi television program (how about those hyphens?) you might find on the BBC than songs with any modern pop sensibility. Fasolo reveals more in his music with each listen, and the album continues to satisfy long after the shock wears off. Highly recommended.

(Sub Pop Records -- P.O. Box 20367, Seattle, WA. 98102;; Jennifer Gentle --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Thursday, October 18th, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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