Gentle Stranger’s Tom Hardwick-Allan, Alex McKenzie and Josh Barfoot follow debut ‘Love And Unlearn’ with ‘Phantom Thoroughfare’ an album inspired by a myriad of curiosities including William Blake, a letter from Grandma and being eaten alive by a Falcon.
Lead single ‘Great Desolation’ out today and which “had been gestating for years” was completed after the lyrics, says Tom, “came to me during a long walk through central London when it was totally deserted.” It was a blast to record, says Alex “laying up a wall of kazoo and guitar and messing around on the Juno.”
‘Phantom Thoroughfare’ explains Tom “is a mixtape for the afterlife. Shoulder to shoulder with the dead. Our passage refracted by broken vessels of song. This came about after we spent a few months holed up, all separately playing Hollow Knight, exploring the desolate caverns, which may have had some influence on this... It’s a collection of shards, things we held onto and brought back from the dark.”
Across the fourteen tracks multi-instrumentalists Gentle Stranger peer through their looking glass at the likes of nature - ’Caterpillar’, is a reworking of an old song in which a caterpillar’s legs are pulled off and takes a “hardcore punk route” befitting of “the insect body horror of the lyrics” with ‘‘Falcon’ “a fantasy about being eaten alive by a falcon and shat out into another world”’ which narrowly avoided being made into a techno banger.
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Like the ghosts of Throbbing Gristle & Alan Splet stalking through the Radiophonic Workshop, conjured in a seance by Delia Derbyshire. Vocal and intellectual acrobatics thrill the synapses. Listen in the dark on headphones, scare yourself silly. Tom Bristow