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Music Review: All India Radio – The Silent Surf

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Let’s begin with the gorgeous cover art of All India Radio’s latest, The Silent Surf. It features a beautiful rendering of the moon rising out of a clear blue ocean. This is one of the reasons people such as myself mourn the demise of vinyl as a format. Record covers like this need to be appreciated in the old school 12” x 12” design, rather the shrunken CD 5” x 5” style we have (sadly) become accustomed to. The Silent Surf is actually available as a limited edition 180-gram LP, but more on that later.

For all intents and purposes, A.I.R. is Martin Kennedy. His collaboration with Steve Kilbey of The Church, Unseen Music, Unheard Words last year was one of my favorites. Unseen Music was an excellent example of two like minded individuals working together for a one of a kind recording. Kilbey graces the opening track of The Silent Surf, “The Bomb” with his presence. This is the type of music both Kilbey and Kennedy do best. “The Bomb” seems contentedly placid on the outside, but that is just a ruse. Listen a bit deeper, and you find all sorts of strange and wonderful things going on.

One of the reasons I like The Silent Surf so much is that you can listen to a cut like this over and over, and never really get to the bottom of it.

“Saucer” features a number of other sampled voices as well. According to the credits, these even include those of NASA people. It is another song I have returned to many times, although I have yet to come to a point where I can say exactly what A.I.R. are getting at. If that sounds like a dig, it is absolutely not intended to. It is a pretty strong recommendation from me in 2011 to say how much I enjoy being able to listen to an album repeatedly, finding new things every time. There are far too few in this day and age that provoke that level of interest from this jaded old soul.

Titles such as “Crystal Waves,” “Purple Sky,” and “Ghost Song” may suggest a New Age recording. And while I grant that there is a calming, peaceful tone to the album, it is a far cry from anything I have ever considered New Age.

All India Radio’s music exists in a place all its own. It is an area where provocative thoughts live, yet never have to be shouted. There is no question that the collection has a soothing, calming effect on the listener. But the subtext is as complex and curious as life itself.

Now on to the business of getting the album in the format it is best heard. Check out allindiaradio for their exclusive and limited release of it. In any format however, I think that The Silent Surf is filled with terrific music, definitely worth checking out.

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