That commercial radio is dominated by cheap and tuneless pop music with the artistic integrity of a junk food advertisement is without dispute; that All India Radio make music that’s the antithesis of such specious crap will probably remain a matter of cult interest forever, or at least until someone spikes the water with the right drugs.
Red Shadow Landing finds All India Radio back in the same rich atmospheric territory in which the band. The North Sky is sparse, as you might expect: gazing off into the night sky, the sonic excitement is in the relative silence; The Original builds into a wild crescendo, like a Pentecostal congregation receiving the word of spiritual enlightenment. Owlpacas In Flight is either a casual stroll along Santa Monica beach, or dusk in the Australian outback – or maybe both, in a bizarre sort of way. Golden threatens to have a walk-on part in a country and western tribute, yet evolves into a rich orchestral soundscape where the Dirty Three sits alongside Jeff Lynne in peace and harmony.
Transcede is so in touch with nature it makes David Attenborough look like Lang Hancock, while Tomorrowland is awash with the sense of philosophical exploration that science fiction purports to offer – and taken to another level by the pedal steel of The Triffids’ Graham Lee. The Lie leads you into a dark place where truth is an abstract rhetorical tool of counter-productive value; When You Are Here is elegant and warm, like the urbane dinner party guest we’ve all hankered for. The sadness of Don’t Leave is palpable; Like A Butterfly floats through the air and rests in front of you with Louis Tillett-like comfort. Finally, there’s the haunting Afterlight, an ideal bookend to end the album. There’s a lot going on in All India Radio’s galactic-emotional explorations, and it’s all good.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Best Track: The Original.
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: THE CHURCH, THE TRIFFIDS
In A Word: Mesmerising