Cinerama - Valentina

by Rob Taylor Rating:7.5 Release Date:2015-05-18

David Gedge allows his alternate musical universes to merge and collide with Cinerama’s Valentina, a rewriting of the album released by Wedding Present in 2012. Cinerama was a deliberate re-routing of Gedge’s interests away from the frenetic indie-pop of TWP towards a more cinematic, lounge-pop sound, a less breathless template upon which Gedge could lavish sumptuous layers of orchestral sound. The evolution of that band has had little or no crossover with TWP. Until now.

2012’s Valentina affirmed all that made TWP a successful indie-band, lyrical sketches of everyday life and love, urgent compositions that grew from the fast strumming C86 sound into a more versatile and modern indie-rock sound. Valentina was not a move forwards but a celebration of everything great about the band. So why deconstruct that album, and risk alienating fans of the Weddos?

I think it’s a subtle repositioning of Cinerama as side-project, to sharing with TWP a more contemporaneous prominence. The fanbase is not radically different. It’s the enigma of David Gedge that’s important, rather than abstractions of sound. His personality is writ large over both enterprises, even if Gedge is a modest man with a strong sense of democracy with his bandmates.

So, what does Cinerama’s Valentina sound like? Unquestionably, a different suite of songs altogether. The string prelude and Latin rhythms forged on drum-rims, contrasted with the rather loud drum rolling on TWP’s version of ‘You’re Dead’, introduces the listener to an entirely different characterisation of Valentina’s sound. The album re-imagined as 1965.

There’s also more soul influence, for instance the Motown sounds of ‘Back a Bit... Stop’, or the loungy swagger of ‘The Girl From the DDR’, which is equal parts Burt Bacharach, Steve Winwood and well, David Gedge. Absent the flourish of grunge in the Wedding Present version, it’s more Las Vegas than Leeds or Seattle.

The difference between being insipid and imaginative in composition often comes down to authenticity. There’s a lot of love in this music, variously augmented as it is with jazzy rhythms, lovely piano lines, muted horns, hammond grooves, and light dabs of orchestration.

There are moments of true inspiration, for instance the rattlesnake tambourines, two-step bass, female choral cries of wonderment, and whistled tune at the opening of ‘Meet Cute’. Its a lovely appropriation of the sound picture created by Morricone’s theme to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Valentina is an affectionate re-gathering of Gedge’s transformative influences. It's also testament to the strength of the original songs.  

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