The Slow Light

'The Slow Light' by All India Radio, album review by Jen Dan. The full-length comes out on April 15th via Minty Fresh,

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Martin Kennedy, the masterful, mind-expanding musical mastermind behind All India Radio has once again crafted a master(mood)piece with his 10th studio album The Slow Light which will radiate worldwide on April 15th. It will be available for purchase via Minty Fresh in the U.S. and Canada and can also be accessed on iTunes and directly at All India Radio’s BandCamp site.

Kennedy has skillfully and subtly blended the soporific drop of down-tempo trip-hop with the drift of dreamgaze reveries and the shadowside of Western American noir throughout The Slow Light. The gently breaking dawn starts with entrancing album-opener “Blueshift”. Starlight synths transmit delicately spacey waves while languid reverb guitar lines unfurl at a meditative pace. The stage has been set for next number “Dark Star” (It’s difficult not to think of David Bowie when seeing those words!) to shine in all of its noir splendor. A touch of static, quickly ticking drumsticks, and a steadily shuffling beat are accompanied by reflective, echoed piano notes and a deeper current of synths. The drum tempo shifts into a kinetic rhythm for a brief moment, while shining reverb guitar lines loop out from the marching drum pattern.

A pulsing, bass line-like beat presses persistently through “Can You Hear The Sound”, as well as the percolation of tapped cymbals and flat-smacked drums. Vibrating guitar reverb slides into a gauzy web of lightly chiming acoustic guitar lines and gently swooping synths. Vocalist Selena Cross materializes from the instrumental ether, softly singing “Listen / Can you hear the sound of nothing but the air / and the sky and the Earth / and the stars and the universe?” This key lyrics passage pretty much sums up The Slow Light’s state of mind and sound. Meanwhile, the transfixing title track floats in the (head)space of a deliberate trip-hop beat, a patina of static, and glowing synth notes. Faintly-heard, knob-twiddling radio frequency notes emerge fleetingly, but are shooed mildly away by the leisurely fall and rise of curving guitar lines and synth drift.

Phased globular notes punctuate the laid-back “Sunburst” as a slow beat and clacking and shimmering percussion, acoustic guitar gleam, and wordless, echoed hums and sighs from Cross run through the track. “Redshift” segues into a soul-pop shimmy, dancing along furtively with a burnished, shuffling rhythmic groove and bass line undertow. Little licks of electric-blue guitar are backed by the deeper pulls of symphonic strings, and passionate, yet restrained piano notes.

Kennedy’s 12 year old daughter, Hollie Houlihan-McKie, makes her delightful vocal debut on “Galaxy of Light”, singing in an airy, sweet tone amid super-sustained synth strings, twisting reverb guitar lines, and a more upbeat drum pace. Houlihan-McKie’s voice is reminiscent of Rose Berlin, the daughter of Dean Garcia (of Curve), who fronts her father’s music project SPC ECO. The tenderly haunting “Twelve” brings back the measured trip-hop beat and adds to the mix the shiver of drawn violin lines, the breath of wistful woodwinds, strummed acoustic guitar, and reflective piano notes.

“Time” begins with a fast-ticking tap and then increases in intensity with a pressing, Motorik tempo, bass line push, and highly processed and reverberating spoken word by Cross. It may just be the fastest and most urgent All India Radio composition ever, at least in its BPM! The Slow Light ends with “The Embers” as the slowly fading, synths-created dawn draws to a close and gently dissipates into the shadows.

Jen Dan