There is little precedent for what's on display here.
Rob Webb 2009-12-01
The title of Gentle Friendly's maiden long player makes good sense in the context of their gradual, stunted ascent towards the public consciousness.
Formed in 2007, the south London duo (Daniel Boyle and David Maurice) have been a name on the lips of leftfield-leaning listeners throughout their brief lifespan, and deservedly so. In the wake of the band's recent hiatus, then, Ride Slow is both their debut and swansong; temporarily at least. The record – a glitchy, lo-fi amalgam of drums, electronics and found-sounds – begins with fizzing loops of nervous tension (No Infinity On), before blossoming into RIP Static, Maurice's otherworldly vocals adding a sense of wide-eyed human wonder to the throb of the machines that hum beneath.
This duality is just one of the things that makes Ride Slow such a beguiling listen. The heart of their often frantic, always experimental noise beats with equal parts analogue sound and human voice, but, compressed and cajoled into long-playing format, it beats far stronger as synthesis than separates. Track markers offer signposts towards groups of ideas – the ebb of Ride Slow is perfect enough to suggest a single body of work as opposed to a collection of standalones.
And if all this sounds a little impenetrable, skip forward to Lover's Rock – one of 2009's undiscovered gems, with Maurice's “Put your house in order” refrain a genuinely affecting lyric delivered with a hitherto unexpected sweetness. Like much of what's here, it recalls Liverpudlian genii Clinic at their most powerful (circa 2000’s Internal Wrangler), or, latterly, American innovators Deerhunter.
Influences, though, are for the most part negligible; there is little precedent for what's on display during Ride Slow's 30-minute tenure. Like Gentle Friendly themselves as things stand, its stay is all too brief – but while the candle burns, this is an utterly illuminating trip.