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File Under: Obscure Treasures
New Wind Blowing by Dino Valente
By: The Girl with the Super-Sensitive Ears
File Under: Obscure Treasures

Folk-acid enigma Dino Valente released his only album, Dino Valente, in 1968. The title may seem straightforward enough, though when you consider that Dino had changed his name from Chester A. Powers years earlier, a more slant portrait emerges. With a sound like it was recorded in a wind tunnel, expansive song structures, and dark, end-of-the-Age-of-Aquarius-hippie-suicide lyrics, the album is just strange enough for it to have been entirely overlooked at the time of its release.

Busted for drugs and in jail for the years that the band he is associated with, Quicksilver Messenger Service, formed and began to play around the Bay Area, Dino Valente seemed to be a legend in his own time. While other SF bands - Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, etc -- signed album deals, Quicksilver, certain that they'd found their man, waited to sign a recording contract until Dino was released from jail, at which time he rejected his waiting band and recorded his solo album. Following this, he stole one of Quicksilver's members and fled to New York to form a group that seems not to have turned out. By '71, he was back in San Francisco where he finally joined his loyal Messengers, completely altering their sound - from acid jam to folk jam.

Common among rock-n-roll banter is the lament of the dead, insane, or otherwise departed early member: those who love Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Bon Scott-era AC/DC... In Quicksilver we find a strange negative of this, with many early fans longing for the days before Dino joined up.

An album for dark-horse loners, for those who love others but love themselves more, Dino Valente is a record that sounds like many things you've heard without sounding exactly like anything you've heard.

New Wind Blowing is a long song, which doesn't progress so much as unwind. Dino takes his time with everything, spooling out his flat vowels over the course of as many as, at times, 5 beats, in a nasally Brooklynese, though he's from Connecticut, committing atrocities of pronunciation such as ty-yime (time), laow-wong (long), and co-oold(cold).
Dino uses his voice (which seems to mirror the open-chord folk strumming of the guitars with an open tuning of its own) as an instrument of emotional expression more than a conveyer of lyrical meaning, though the lyrics, impressionistic and beautiful in places (such as "every other now and then"), are not throw-away. He glides around in search of his note like a shore bird, always seeming to find it, and hovers there, quavering. His voice is not sweet, but gravelly and spent.

As if all this isn't strange enough, it is the song's structure that may be most unconventional. It begins usually enough in a verse. The chorus, however, is difficult to locate, and seems to be just one line tagged onto the verse's end "There's a new wind blowing in my mind." This figure repeats, but this time, following the demi-chorus, a new section crops up. A bridge? It shows up at the right time for one, though it lacks the feel of a bridge, and seems more like a continuation of the chorus: there is no melodic shift for one; Dino seems simply to have had more to say. Following this section, a real change occurs; I'll call it a bridge. It feels like one, though a displaced one, there's a key change and everything. After this, Dino lowers himself into the verse, making one marvel at how he's found his way. This is followed by the "chorus," on which he ends, gliding up to the song's highest note, the pinnacle from which his voice echoes, making it sound like he's jumped off the side of a mountain.

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