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The Amazing - Gentle Stream CD (album) cover

GENTLE STREAM

The Amazing

Crossover Prog


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Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A couple of months ago, I placed an LP order with Syn-Phonic - I selected The Amazing's 2nd and 3rd releases. They were not included here at P.A., and all I knew of the band is that they were from Sweden, and DUNGEN's guitarist extraodinaire REINE FISKE was involved. This most recent album from the band, 'Gentle Stream', was quite the discovery, very consistent and portraying no weaknesses at all !! Johan Holmegard (also of Dungen) plays drums, with a solid bassist, keyboardist, vocalist and various guests participating. Not unlike Dungen, The Amazing holds an equally inspired frontman in Christoffer Gunrup, who handles the composing, and has a pleasant, even if a bit fragile, singing voice, performing all songs in English language. Stylistically, they are a song-based and laid-back (most of the time) sort of band. Some tracks feature the Mellotron too !! The 7 min. title-song can be reminiscent of various psychedelic efforts from certain West Coast bands of the late 60's - memorable melodies, subtle organ, twangy guitars and a generally mellow vibe, with a lightly country-ish flavour, with Gunrup's vocal harmonies taking us out on an easy ride during the final 2 minutes or so. 'Flashlight' continues the easy going hippie mood with a song featuring some lovely flute-work and a light-hearted melody. Musically, the latter section offers some tasteful saxophone playing and some scarcely heard mellotron-piano lines. I often wonder of the inspiration behind a song entitled 'International Hair' - have we just come from some high-end salon with the latest, hirsute fashion trend ?? Anyway, this one's a 6 min. burner with catchy verses and an excellent coda alternating between major and minor keys. 'The Fog' is somewhat straight-forward but tasteful nevertheless. Side 2 is where I find they come into their own, an almost immaculate stretch of 4 songs, mostly breaking the 6 minute mark, allowing the band to jam out and show us how they can impress within their more direct approach. I can detect more vibes of the fantastic LANDBERK in many moments on this side than side 1. From the track 'Gone', which shows off the more abrasive guitars that we have come to admire from Fiske, along with some notable percussion work, to the mellotron- backed ethereal closer 'When The Colours Change', each song is a real treat, with 'Dogs' being the absolute meister-work of the album - great guitaring from Fiske throughout, with the instrumental passage during the 2nd half allowing the band to let loose a bit. 'Assumptions' is a short, 2min+ piece that is every bit as tasteful as the rest. Some well incorporated mellotron parts enhance the beauty. The gentle closer may leave one in a state of blissful catatonia (if there were such a thing) - I find it's all over too soon for me. Fiske's guitaring is spot-on. With my semi-permeable man-brain (ho ho) I don't know if I do this album enough justice - 4 stars.

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Send comments to Tom Ozric (BETA) | Report this review (#833756)
Posted Saturday, October 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.)

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#847403)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | Review Permalink

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