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The Amazing - Gentle Stream CD (album) cover

GENTLE STREAM

The Amazing

 

Crossover Prog

4.03 | 8 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

BrufordFreak
4 stars This happens to be my favorite album of the year 2011; I know that it is not the 'best.' The melodies, warmth of the music, incredible group jams--led, of course, by my guitar hero, Reine Fiske--make this album one that I want to come back to often. More than the others in this year's Top Album's list. But I recognize its flaws, especially in the fact that it is not so proggy as some of the other masterpieces and excellent collections of progressive rock music.

1. "Gentle Stream" (7:00) starts the album out with an incredible sound that is quite reminiscent of some of the masterpieces of psychedelic rock from the late 1960s and even the Southern rock groups of the early 1970s. A smooth, incredibly warm and melodic song-- both in terms of the instrumentalisits and the vocals. Great vocal harmonies in the vein of CROSBY, STILL, NASH & YOUNG. The drum work is incredibly fluid and smooth, restrained yet full--kind of like STEVE GADD's understated mastery. But my favorite part is the vocal- accompanied all-out jam by the band for the final two and a half minutes. The adrenaline rush is incredible! THE SONG OF THE YEAR!! (11/10)

2."Flashlight" (4:56) continues the album's 60s/70s psychedelic/Southern rock feel--as do all of the songs on Gentle Stream--this time in the vein of DAVE MASON/JESSE COLIN YOUNG. A simpler, almost acoustic song with flutes, picking acoustic guitar, and some organ. Nice ERIC CLAPTON/BLIND FAITH instrumental section in the middle, followed by simple electric guitar and saxophone soli to end. (8/10)

3. "International Hair" (6:08) is another standout song, this time starting like a JONI MITCHELL, FLEETWOOD MAC or AMERICA song. Singer Christoff Gunrup has an amazingly smooth, sensitive, and familiar voice; he sings as if he is putting his entire being into his efforts. The smooth, subtle work of the drummer is again stellar. A lull of delicate play at the 4:20 mark turns into another group jam with Reine Fiske playing the slide or pedal steel guitar and some roiling percussion dueling going on all around. (10/10)

4. "The Fog" (4:29) begins with some acoustic guitar picking which again revives images of STEVE WINWOOD/BLIND FAITH. The vocals enter, ever-so delicately, at times feeling like they are being held up or shored up by the background singers' sustained "ahh's" and "ooohs." Fiske's guitar picking gets a little more forceful at the 2:20 mark, and from there out, until multiple electric guitars begin a southern rock harmonized duel right out of the archives of THE MARSHALL TUCKER BAND or even THE ALLMAN BROTHERS. (9/10)

5. "Gone" (6:13) has much more of a CSN&Y feel to it--especially the electric guitars. This song has some awesome hooks, both instrumentally and vocally, but the highlight is one of the album's trademark all-out band jams--previewed with the rhythm shift at the 2:21 mark but really starting at about the 4:07 mark. Almost a SANTANA or AMERICA feel to it. Wonderful b vox! (9/10)

6. "Dogs" (6:38) starts out with an even stronger CSN&Y sound and feel--like it was a song that didn't make it onto 1970's Déjà Vu (but should have). Christoff's vocal is mixed a little back and the electric guitars are very much in the foreground. This is not quite as engaging a song, despite it's familiarity, until the 4:12 mark when the electric guitar swiches on his wah- pedal and starts to lead into an awesome HENDRIX/CLAPTON/ROBIN TROWER playing backed by some amazing organ play that is reminiscent of PROCUL HARUM's MATTHEW FISHER or perhaps even STEVE WINWOOD. (9/10)

7. "Assumptions" (2:08) is a kind of vocal interlude, almost like sacred church or meditative music.(8/10)

8. "When The Colours Change" (6:02) is the album's final masterpiece. It begins with a very slow moving rhythm though with full band members' participation. Sitar or (and/or pedal steel?) and harp bring a rich fullness to this song that is so gorgeous. This song reminds me of some of the LARRY LEE-penned OZARK MOUNTAIN DAREDEVILS songs from the 1970s. Beautiful song with stellar performances across the board--all collaborating and synthesizing into a seamless aural quilt. (10/10)

Again, this is my favorite album from 2011, yet, in terms of its contribution to "progressive rock" it suffers a little. It is more of a revival of some long lost and yet not forgotten sounds and traditions that give it such a warmth and home-like familiarity that set this album apoart from the other Neo, revivalist or imitative work being done today. Absolutely gorgeous vocals and melodies coupled with mesmerizing guitar and drum play.

(As of 10/29/12 Gentle Stream sits at #48 on my list of All-time Favorite Albums.)

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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