Perhaps best known for stints in Italian indie acts Lay Llamas and his solo folk music recording project Herself, Giole Valenti, is a Palermo, Sicily, Italy-based singer/songwriter and guitarist. Valenti’s latest musical project, Juju derives its name from a West African term, used to designate objects, such as amulets and spells used ceremoniously — but the Palermo-based singer/songwriter and guitarist broadens the scope of the term to encompass a mix of rhythmic psychedelia, ancient myths and Mediterranean neo-paganism.
Through music, Valenti hopes to tell the story of an on-going exodus from Africa that more often than not ends in ignored tragedies at sea, “a total defeat for humanity.” Inspired by sources of Earth magic and soil secret, Valenti’s latest project strives to turn that defeat into a celebration of spirit and modern psychedelia.
With the release of 2016’s self-titled Juju debut, which was released through Sunrise Ocean Bender Records, collaborations with Nicola Giunta in Lay Llamas, a European tour with internationally acclaimed psych rock act and JOVM mainstays GOAT and co-signs from Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue and GOAT’s Goatman, Valenti and his latest solo recording project have developed a profile across the international psych rock scene. Building upon a growing profile, Valenti began an ongoing collaboration with renowned psych rock label Fuzz Club Records that begun back in 2017 with the release of Our Mother Was a Plant — and last year, Valenti played at Liverpool Festival of Psychedelia.
Slated for a May 31, 2019 release through Fuzz Club Records, Valenti’s third Juju album Maps & Territory reportedly finds the Sicilian psych rock musician building upon and expanding the sound that first won him attention. Collaborating with avant-garde composer and improviser, Amy Denio, the forthcoming album’s material reportedly retains the unique blend of psych rock, Mediterranean Folk, New Wave and African polyrhythms but deconstructed with some of the material subtly influenced by jazz and other genres.
Thematically, the album’s material concerns itself with territory — and its physical and ideological representation on map. And unsurprisingly, the material sonically will further cement Valenti’s reputation for a globalist, genre-blurring sound and approach.
The album’s latest single “I’m In A Trance,” which features GOAT’s Goatman is a feverish and lysergic track centered around propulsive African polyrhythm, looping angular attack-based guitar, twinkling keys and chanted, call and response vocals. Sonically the song evokes a stomping, hallucinogenic voodoo ritual in which its practitioners are in a deep trance — while bearing a resemblance to Here Lies Man. The recently released glitchy video follows a hooded and masked man in the woods, foraging for food and running as though he’s being chased; it’s eerie and yet appropriately trippy.