All India Radio
Inevitable / 2006
It's not often that you
run into a project that puts forth an ambient sensibility while
maintaining a beat, but All India Radio is one such project. Conjuring
up images of wide-open spaces, the cinematic soundscapes on their
recent Permanent Evolutions recall the soundtrack work of
David Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti or Wim Wenders collaborator
Ry Cooder. As it turns out, All India Radioan Australian project
led by Martin Kennedy in collaboration with bandmates Mark Wendt
and Ben Simshas indeed provided music for film and television.
A collection of remixes,
unreleased tracks, and film music, Permanent Evolutions runs
the gamut from experimental beatlessness to gentle downtempo pop.
Some tracks, such as "Walking on A.I.R." or the glitchy
interlude "Little Mexico," may be too ambient for certified
beatfanatics. More upbeat and accessible is "For Angel,"
presented here as the All India Radio vs. Don Meers Mix. With gentle
vocals by Chloe Hall, the song is reminiscent of Hefner's "Stagger"
or Boomclick's "Follow Love," though more stripped-down
than either; its updated pop/folk sensibility also calls to mind
Beth Orton. The album's standout track is the instrumental "Life
and How to Do It," whose slide-guitar sounds evoke the broad
vistas of a long car ride through the desert.
Listening to Permanent
Evolutions, one may wonder where exactly the "India"
in All India Radio fits into the picture. In contrast to projects
with more overt, emphatic Eastern influences, All India Radio's
incorporation of Indian sounds is fairly subtle. There's an understated
tabla presence in the Don Meers remix of "Permanent Revolutions,"
whose percussion and rhythm make the song a gentler cousin of Thievery
Corporation's Eastern-flavored "2001." Though the song
"For Angel" has some sitar elements, they serve as embellishment
rather than a focal point.
While All India Radio
may not entirely live up to its name, Permanent Evolutions
is a welcome addition to the sometimes-overlooked ambient end of
the downtempo spectrum and should whet appetites for the project's
next full-length, expected in May. As Mixmaster Morris once instructed
fans of ambient music, "Lie down and be counted." CM