"Gentle Stream,” The Amazing (Partisan)
The Amazing’s “Gentle Stream” is so gentle, it’s practically still water.
The Swedish band teeters with inertia on its woozy U.S. debut, but with the days getting shorter and holidays upon us, perhaps some aural limbo would have restorative value.
“Gentle Stream” is fed by a tranquil infusion of ’60s/’70s indie-folk, psychedelia and prog-rock, with songwriter/frontman Christoffer Gunrup employing fey and often indistinct vocals to deliver opaque lyrics that rarely seem to land anywhere.
Still, the rambling release is an addictive hallucinogen, whether in the ethereal swoop of “Gone” or in the airy tangle of “International Hair” — the latter of which has a bit more push in the rhythm. Elsewhere, there’s even a country tinge in the elegant, decorous layers of “The Fog” and the inviting closer, “Ghosts.”
Gunrup sets the tone with the title-track opener, his trippy vocals seeping out over the narcotic strains to induce a peaceful daze. Yet here, as on many ensuing tracks, The Amazing lingers in an addled state: And fully five of the nine “Gentle Stream” tracks extend beyond the six-minute mark, which will prompt listeners to either succumb to the allure or snap from impatience.
There are pleasant distinguishing touches planted throughout the consistently pretty sound — for example, the Bacharach-esque notes that punctuate the drowsy hum of “Flashlight” and the ginger cadence that anchors the arching “When the Colours Change.” However, with the exception of the brief “Assumptions” (which seems to fade in mid-song and also fade out mid-song) all of the cuts sprawl to, and possibly beyond, the breaking point.
That’s the downside of esoteric downtime.