Australia - Full Moon 144 - 06/18/08
All India Radio
These Winter Dreams
These two new releases from the prolific All India Radio - AKA Melburnian Martin Kennedy plus a rotating cast of collaborators - showcase the two extremes of his muse, from vocal-led downtempo space balladry to ambient soundscapes. However, it doesn't seem to matter which direction Kennedy heads, it all somehow manages to sound like All India Radio. The trademark AIR sound involves washes of synth, punchy midtempo beats, and lashings of tremolo guitar. The production is always lush and crystal clear, with Kennedy's skill in combining a range of instruments across the stereo field evident throughout.
On Fall, Kennedy's guitar and electronics resonate within co-compositions by himself and new vocalist Leona Prue, backed by Mark Wendt on bass, Ben Sims on drums, and Emily Williams on cello. The best tracks keep the backing simple and evocative, like opener "Far Away", with Prue's voice working beautifully over a loping groove and aching strings. Although Prue's vocals are a new addition to the All India Radio sound, they are far and away the most appealing aspect of Fall. Emotive without being cloying, her delivery consistently tugs at the heartstrings. It's pretty gorgeous stuff.
Meanwhile, These Winter Dreams is probably my favourite All India Radio album yet. With no vocals to lead the songs, the interplay between piano, guitar and wavering synths draws the listener into a stunning ambient soundworld, best evidenced on "Strange Days" and "Ebow Drone". Immersive and consistently
engaging, this is the kind of music that you can happily live inside on repeat listens. Strongly recommended.
Copyright © 2008 Tim Clarke