Australia - Full Moon 123 - 10/07/06
All India Radio
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. Echo Other distils the tremoloed guitar lines, aching synths and simple affecting melodies from All India Radio's previous work, while stirring in a fresh variety of magic, creating their definitive album.
While my cynical self immediately slapped the label 'coffee table music' on this record when I first gave it a spin, as soon as I popped my trusty headphones on, Echo Other's rich, rewarding layers and atmospheres became immediately apparent and I gave myself a reproachful slap across the chops.
For me, Echo Other shares striking similarities with Boards of Canada's The Campfire Headphase. However, while BoC's latest fails to match the majesty of their previous work, All India Radio have taken the aesthetic and refined it, producing a sophisticated instrumental soundtrack to walking on
the moon while sipping cocktails.
There are depths here, though. The surface may be pristine, tasteful and incredibly easy on the ear, but the blend of instruments and the yearning melodies are masterfully handled, ensuring repeat listens are incredibly rewarding. Distorted guitars sometimes growl like a threatening fog, but blend beautifully with
all the elegant, pretty sounds in the mix ("Four Three"). The shortest tracks split the difference between BoC and the Cocteau Twins' most woozy guitarscapes ("Tropic of Unicorn", "Elizabethland"). Vocals, when they do appear, are so detached and otherworldy that even when they are intoning reassuring mantras like
"Welcome - you are not alone" ("Four Three"), they sound like replicants from Blade Runner, eager to drug you into a beatific haze before slicing your legs off. Strange.
But then there's harmless electro-pop akin to Lemon Jelly ("Song in C"), and plenty of soaring e-bowed guitar and strings ("The Quiet Ambient") to ensure your trip around the rings of Saturn is suitably out of this world, maaan. Elsewhere there's more drony numbers to bring you back down to Earth and remember
that you're just a music fan with headphones on, not some intergalactic superhero about to get laid by a woman with three breasts from Mars ("Ghost Dirt", "Endless Highway").
Existing somewhere between sophisticated electro-pop and atmospheric ambient space-out music, Echo Other is a bewitching, addictive trip into a musical world that sparkles with promise and soars like a futuristic car with nothing but luscious chill-out music on the stereo.
Copyright © 2006 Tim Clarke