The life of a music reviewer is not always easy. Occasionally you get a record to comment upon that throws you for a loop. Italian synth-group Valvola’s debut release, Teenagers Film Their Own Life is one such example. I offered to review this album because promotional material compared it to the classic 1960s Brazilian psychedelic group Os Mutantes. That is quite a promise and I was admittedly intrigued.
When the CD arrived, I excitedly gave it a whirl. As I sat and listened, though, my excitement turned to disappointment. While Teenagers is a psychedelic and trippy sonic journey that is vaguely reminiscent of Spacemen 3, the comparison to the more talented Os Mutantes is a stretch. Valvola’s sound is driven mainly by the farfisa organ and is, in general, over-wrought, uneven and derivative. The first track, “The Guitarmakers Adventure: Era IV” sounds like a cheesy cut from a 1960s mod film. “Relaxing Mood” includes a bass-line that is eerily similar to the one made famous on the Twin Peaks soundtrack. American ears will also discern elements of 1980s popsters Simple Minds. In other spots, Valvola’s sound drifts into a dreary Portishead vibe.
The music of Os Mutantes was interesting and significant because it was a trailblazing combination of Beatle-esque psychedelia and the emerging Tropacalia movement in Brazil. On Teenagers Film Their Own Life, though, there is nothing new or fresh about Valvola’s music. If you really want some great pop-psychedlia, stick to Os Mutantes. Hopefully, I will have better luck next time.
// Notes from the Road
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