Released: 10/02/23 (delayed from 02/12/22)
Staging an attempt to gloss their music, Gentle Stranger say it recalls “throwing a bouncy ball into a hall of mirrors.” It’s telling that normal routes of describing music - your typical band boilerplate of “such and such meets such and such” or “we just play guitar, us, and leave the writing up to you” - doesn’t suffice for the London collective; instead a more arcane, more potent image is fired back, a wonky and poetic idea that’s instantly more arresting, more substantial.
For the newly initiated, Gentle Stranger are a selfdescribed “post-clown” outfit that oscillate between musical forms, achieving a bewildering, almost Joycean experimental sweep; pastiche, parody, burlesque, earnest composition, genre interrogation and progression - they cover it all. Their renowned live performances see the trio cycle through an arsenal of musical instruments, apparatus, tackle, and stuff. The set (part of the reason for their now cult-like following) hangs together intricately, a fractal clockwork machine that relies on movement and spatial-awareness as much as it does timing and musicality.
Upon witnessing the Gentle Stranger live show (‘show’ here is most certainly in the theatrical, carnivalesque, extravaganza sense of the word), it’s tempting to question whether they could reiterate, reshape, and condense this uniquely visual and visceral spectacle into recorded music - and the answer is yes. The latest update of the Gentle Stranger sound lands in the form of ‘Upon Return’, their barnstorming third album.