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‘These Winter Dreams’ is the new solo ambient & soundscape project from All India Radio's Martin Kennedy. In production for over three years - recorded in the quiet moments between the activities of other All India Radio projects, the album is Martin’s first purely ‘ambient,’ beat-less album.
The album features the beautifully atmospheric pedal steel guitar of Graham Lee (from legendary Aussie band The Triffids and classic KLF albums Chill Out and The White Room) and on remix duties is experimental composer Ai Yamamoto, who added her unique atmospherics to the track ‘Steel Sunrise.’
Full of windswept but warm soundscapes with an emphasis on melody, the album features a wide range of acoustic instruments including David Bridie’s (Not Drowning Waving) baby grand piano, an old Yamaha electric piano recorded on an 8-bit mini disc, an Indian harmonium, beat up old acoustics and a range of old synths. When mixed with All India Radio’s electronics and found sounds, the results are a luscious blend of the old and the new, the mysterious and the familiar with echoes of Brian Eno, Boards Of Canada and Eluvium.
** ALL INDIA RADIO interview By MIKE GEE, The Brag magazine 2003 **
The 2003 Australian Album Of the Year may well have been recorded by an act virtually nobody has heard of. Melbourne-based All India Radio's self-titled third album is a breathtaking triumph; one of the warmest, most exquisite, ethereal, instrumental records ever made in Australia. Drenched with the spirit of the land, it draws heavily on the legacy and feel of the classic Australian surf music soundtracks of the early '70s such as Sea Of Joy and Morning Of The Earth. The result is an overwhelmingly insouciant and satisfying original soundscape.
I rarely review an album in an introduction but in this case there's a reason: I want you to go out and buy this magical piece of music. Make Martin Kennedy - the heart of All India Radio - a lot more famous than he is right now. He deserves to be. Kennedy is the kind of unsung musical genius Australian culture constantly passes over and ignores as the record industry continues on its relentless search for prettier women, prettier boys and more meaningless acts. Popstars indeed. Give one-tenth of that money to Martin Kennedy and he would have composed three masterpieces, probably four. If this reads like a shameless plug, so be it. All India Radio is tremendously impressive.
Kennedy is a familiar name to fans of eclectic experimental pop - he was the heart of the brilliant Pray TV for nearly a decade with fellow member of All India Radio, Joseph Kennedy, his accomplice for five of those years. And in Pray TV's more experimental and moody outbursts you can hear the beginnings of Kennedy's explorations in ambience that have seen him release three albums: the current album is preceded by The Inevitable (1999) and 002 (2001), both of which are fine excursions in ambient music, loops and found sound, that are the obvious bedrock on which this year's album has been developed.
"It's funny you should bring up surf music," Kennedy says from his office at Shock Records in Melbourne. "We decided to call this ambient surf music. And I wanted to create a record that was warm and really organic sounding. The songs on this album have developed over a year. I kept mixing and remixing but it was worth doing and I'm happy, for once, with the way it sounds.
"I heard a track on the radio and it sounded good. The fact that stations such as Triple J, PBS and 3RRR have been playing it is even more satisfying as there no vocal tracks. We were going to have one but I left it off because I thought people would focus on it to the exclusion of the rest of the record."
Kennedy agrees that in Pray TV's songs - for which he wrote the music - there are obvious elements, particularly "similar melodies".
"Certain melodies float around my head," he explains, "endlessly coming out in different ways. It was natural for me to reach this type of music. I like atmosphere: I like creating it. I like to listen to atmospheric music. I just really love that whole atmospheric style. That said, I really do like all kinds of music. Some of my favourite records are hardcore punk such as Husker Du. However, if I'm ever going to get goosebumps it will be from an ambient piece."
The music on All India Radio is also remarkably emotional - not an easy feat to pull off with an all instrumental collection. It's not getting emotion that's the problem, but rather investing it with a realism that steers clear of cliche or overkill.
"That emotion is sort of what I'm aiming for," Kennedy says. "One day I'm going to write an album where every single song has a similar emotional effect. The funny thing about this record is that there are so many parts, so many instruments, that mixing was really hard. Often we ended up stripping the tracks right back. Yet for all the things that went on in the studio it came out sounding remarkably warm. A lot of modern music sounds so cold. I was always after that warmth so I had to ask myself whether I should use certain effects and instruments.
"Before we started recording this one I was listening to a lot of surf music - Shadows, Atlantics and Fleetwood Mac's Albatross. The track, Waukaringa, is heavily influenced by that song."
The influence is obvious and it's rather odd that more bands haven't drawn on this haunting piece of English ethereal instrumentalism that topped the charts in late 1968/early 1969 (depending on the territory) and featured some exquisite playing from the legendary Peter Green. But if Kennedy has found his inspiration in the past then it should be said that his music is timeless. It belongs to every decade and generation. And that is no mean feat.
- By MIKE GEE, The Brag magazine 2003
Melbourne’s All India Radio have produced an album that is guaranteed to send even the most cynical listener (i.e., me on a bad day) drifting off into blissful reverie… their definitive album...a sophisticated instrumental soundtrack to walking on the moon while sipping cocktails. - Luna Kafe (Norway)
5 STARS It's been three years since their last, self-titled, release, but Martin Kennedy and co have another sublimely relaxing album of windswept landscapey music. You can see the clouds from up here. - The Monkey Puzzle
FOUR STARS Morricone-style stark, lanky guitar lines set upon aural textures reminiscent at times of electro-minimalists the Boards of Canada...this is tasty music that sets your imagination loose - it's musically provocative yet effortless in its blending of sounds and melodies. - ABC RADIO online
Everything sounds so perfect, so luscious, so warm....a palpable feeling of timeless beauty - Inpress Magazine
Melbourne instrumental outfit All India Radio allow a sense of stillness in accelerated times. A celestial cinescape. - The Sunday Age