Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Amazing - Gentle Stream

Rightfully boastful name, beautiful album. Laurel Canyon spirit re-locates to Scandinavia.

Picture the scene – Laurel Canyon, 1969, the sun's hazy heat shimmers the air, heavy with reefer smoke. A few half dressed kids chase dogs round the legs of rock royalty as they work out the extended coda to their latest mid-tempo gentle folk rock opus. The guitar lines spiralling and intertwining, relaxed yet exploratory. The drums and bass pushing in all the right places. It's all too beautiful, man.

That's the image that comes to mind while listening to Gentle Stream, the title track of the second full length album from Sweden's psychedelic folk rock collective The Amazing. Though that's not the full picture, there's more. The song is lent an icy European coating courtesy of lead singer and songwriter Christoffer Gunrup. It's a bit like a modern day take on Wooden Ships, played by Crosby, Stills Nash & Nico, albeit a male Nico.

Click over the jump for more on Gentle Stream.
Along with Gunrup the band is made up of members of Swedish pysch outfit Dungen (Reine Fiske and Johan Holmegard), along with Fredrik Swahn, Alexis Benson and jazz drummer Moussa Fadera. Federa's drumming is just one of the magical ingredients on this album and makes Gentle Stream flow so effortlessly on the ear.

The album veers between gentle, flights-of-fancy folk rock, soft hazy psychedelic loveliness, and inner space dreaminess. The opening title track is followed by Flashlight, merging the baroque woodwind and guitar folk of Bryter Layter era Nick Drake with a simple pop melody. Delightful stuff complete with a saxophone solo on the outro. International Hair continues in a similar vein, Gunrup's vocals augmented with shimmering female backing vocals. The electric guitars come back out for Gone, a psych drenched odyssey, though they're not played in an aggressive rock way, they're chiming away to serve the song. Like the title suggests the music is unobtrusive yet still manages to work its magic and get under your skin. Album closer When The Colours Change finishes the album off as beautifully as it started. A fitting blissfully stoned soundtrack to the changing seasons.

Naming your band The Amazing is both a brave, potentially dangerous thing to do; you're either asking for put-downs, or have a strong belief in the music you make. Thankfully the eight tracks here more than live up to such bold claims. If it's not too late, expect to see this in most end of year lists.

Click here for The Amazing on the Subliminal Sounds website.