Australia’s All India Radio have been walking around with labels like “chillgaze”, “chilltronic”, and “ambient post-rock” for well over 15 years. Multi-instrumentalist Martin Kennedy and company have been incredibly prolific since the beginning, so it’s understandable if a potential listener may ask what 2016’s The Slow Light has to offer beyond All India Radio’s trademark sound.
For starters, artist Victor Atkins created the album’s cover. The fading shades of blue around the outside give the optical illusion of changing depth. In a similar manner, The Slow Light feels much shorter than its 41-minute running length. Secondly, the presence of vocals make a welcome return to All India Radio’s format, courtesy of Selena Cross and Kennedy’s daughter Hollie Houlihan-McKie. Thanks to dear old dad’s equipment, she could pass for Beth Gibbons Jr. on “Galaxy of Light”.
Musically speaking, this album finds All India Radio at their stretchiest. The weightless opener “Blueshift” finds Kennedy achieving the Floydian heights he has aspired towards for so many years, in both guitar and keyboard territories. The mid-tempo “Can You Hear the Sound”, featuring Cross on vocals, was released in an ambient mix late last year. Hearing it on The Slow Light is like witnessing a flower reaching full bloom. “Time”, possibly one of All India Radio’s most upbeat moments, is propelled by a chugging synthesizer that could just quite possibly give it an excuse to be played for the dancefloor.
All other hallmarks are present and accounted for, like the sighing guitar chords of “Redshift” and the breaking-dawn-on-another-planet keyboards of “The Embers”. All in all, The Slow Light may be just All India Radio at its finest. And that’s really saying something, given the quantity of their work.
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