The Amazing Gentle Stream
As a guitarist for the Swedish psych-rock band Dungen, Reine Fiske has helped singer-songwriter Gustav Ejstes realize his vision of trippy head music leavened with kitschy Europop. Fiske fills much the same role while working with singer-songwriter Christoffer Gunrup in The Amazing, grounding and unifying his partner’s eclecticism, as Fiske lets his guitar billow across songs that range from Pink Floyd-style space-outs to Crazy Horse crunch to airy Al Stewart folk. On The Amazing’s second album Gentle Stream (newly released in the U.S. after coming out in Sweden in late 2011), Fiske spins little webs around his bandmates’ trance-y rhythms while Gunrup sings in a quavering monotone, sounding a lot like the humming organ that runs through much of this record. Gunrup writes The Amazing’s songs, giving them structure and flow, but he’s smart enough to let Fiske and the rest of the band take over for the jammy codas, which roil and erupt periodically—explosive, but never out of control.
The title track to Gentle Stream opens the record, and is, paradoxically, one of its rawest cuts. The rest of the album fits more with the title, taking its cues from the lightly groovy ballad “Flashlight,” which sounds like a more processed version of a song from Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter, complete with muted woodwinds and horns. In The Amazing’s case, the polish is less a way to make freaky music more palatable and more of a distancing effect, encasing some of the songs’ wilder elements within shiny, transparent boxes. Gunrup and Fiske are big on dichotomies; on “International Hair,” the goofy title and chipper tone give way to a more mystical vibe in the song’s second half, while “The Fog” begins with fragile, chiming strings and then gets much heavier down the stretch. “Gone” uses a chorus of voices to produce a low, regretful moan. The Amazing like to entice and then awe, always bringing songs back to the guitars, which sound like they’re being played by a real human person, until they burst into shards of jagged, whirling rainbows.