Album Review: All India Radio emanates waves of glorious, glittering signals with the immersive ‘Afterworld’


The Breakdown

There is a mesmerising aura to All India Radio's absolutely magnificent album 'Afterworld' that spills forth a series of incredible beautiful moments that glitter and shine. This is an album that immediately send you into a blissful reverie with its quiet, ambient moments that are emotional and affecting.
Independent 9.0

There is a mesmerising aura to All India Radio‘s absolutely magnificent album ‘Afterworld’ that spills forth a series of incredible beautiful moments that glitter and shine. This is an album that immediately send you into a blissful reverie with its quiet, ambient movements that are emotional and affecting. The album is a connecting whole – not one to be dipped into but rather one to immerse oneself into and travel to the interplanetary realms it creates in the imagination.

All India Radio is the work of Martin Kennedy who has an unerring ability to enhance and bejewel the works of others with his creations. His collaboration earlier this year on the album ‘Jupiter 13’ with The Church’s Steve Kilbey (see my review here) is already one of the releases of the year – and the guests he has on ‘Afterworld’ – including Gareth Koch (whose own collaboration with Steve Kilbey last year, Chryse Planitia, was one of the albums of last year) – indicate a willingness to draw in the best and make the best of them.

Kennedy does not hide his admiration for what some would see as dinosaurs of yesteryear – prog rock in the form of Yes or the psychedelic elements of Pink Floyd – and this bleeds into the psychedelic aspects of the instrumentations – delays and echoes shimmer and flow through the layers of the songs that play and extend for as long as they should.

Of the album, Kennedy says:

Afterworld’ was written and recorded during Australia’s coronavirus lockdown. It was a chance to do something different and take some risks. I wanted to create something with a bit more depth than my previous album, Eternal, which, in the spirit of fun, was thrown together quick and dirty. With Afterworld, I wanted to slow things down, breathe in the air, let the guest artists do their thing without interference and hopefully create some music that moves people. I hope I’ve succeeded.

Opening track featuring the vocals of the mysterious Yin (of which there is little written), has floating, lush and rich sensuous vocals over a brooding synth base and haunting strings with a Lynchian guitar crunch hovering in the background. The melodies float like a ghost in the air: the effect is quite magical.

Deep Blue, with vocals from Sasquin (Tasmanian Anna Waugh, was released as a single: it is is another profoundly beautiful piece of music which continues the Lynchian motif – haunting guitars that have a visceral edge cutting through the wash of gentle sound that evokes for me a sixties vista driving along the Mediterranean coast in an open topped sports car with a cravat and a tweed jacket.

The accompanying video captures the aquatic viscosity of the track. Kennedy says:

Deep Blue is created by award winning Queensland animator Helena Papageorgiou, created in the spirit of animation greats Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) and René Laloux (La Planète sauvage, Gandahar).

The result is nothing short of magnificent – a perfect vision for the surreal, slightly disembodied nature of the dream pop song:

Third track ‘Sula Guin (Featuring Devin Townsend)’ echoes with the twitter of birds in a bucolic and pastoral air and the wash of synths forming a celestial veil while distorted, twisted guitars unfurl below the covers. It has the resonance and imperious nature of Pink Floyd at their best – slowly building up the force and power into something driving and powerful. It is over nine minutes of transfixing music with mysterious vocals swimming slightly below the glittering surface. There is the aura of French band Air in this piece but with far greater presence and stature.

Kennedy’s inspirational debt to Pink Floyd is paid with the cover of ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of The Sun’ – Kennedy’s version, with vocals again by Yin, is a more dream pop-infused and ambient take, creating a more softer and cohesive version. It’s like Kennedy was on more palatable and relaxing illicit substances than Pink Floyd.

The four tracks that follow are ambient delights. ‘El Cielo’ is the aftermath – a bright and alert instrumental track after the dreamy fugue of the preceding cover with its wandering piano traipsing delicately over the wash of synths and strings and arpeggiated sounds. ‘Aura’ slowly settles back into an ambient fugue where Kennedy’s skills to make the spaces inbetween the music spectral and vast. ‘Afterworld’ has a scratchy tremolo aura that travels under the razor-sharp guitar that picks its way across the track with heavenly choruses drifting in the sky.

‘The Time of Our Lives’ features the distinctive and beautiful sounds of Gareth Koch on guitar – and gorgeous soaring vocals, filled with the deepest melancholia that float briefly above the haunting refrain while a chorus of children’s voice can be discerned in the distance.

The album ends with ‘One Twenty Four AM’, a shimmering acoustic guitar bed, a mysterious sampled voice and a return of the Lynchian overtones.

This is a magical and immersive masterpiece. You caught glimpses of Kennedy’s wizardry in his collaboration with Kilbey, mixing Kilbey’s mastery of melody and mystical lyrical composition with Kennedy impeccable instrumentation cloaked with psychedelic cloth of the finest quality. ‘Afterworld’ is less about three-minute indie pop songs with verses, choruses and an eight bar break, and more about finely structured rich and lush moments of time that wrap themselves around you like a warmed blanket. Spaced out and psychedelic throughout. People would pay a lot of money to get that experience – ‘Afterworld’ is a permanent dream state for little outlay.

There are a myriad ways to get this album here, and the download below comes with bonus tracks that are each, individually, just as beautiful and immersive as the main album, revealing the disturbing amount of creativity that resides in the head of All India Radio.

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