Artists-On-Albums: AOA#23 (A.I.R.’s Martin Kennedy on Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror)

All India Radio’s Martin Kennedy on…

Brian Eno and Harold Budd’sAmbient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror (E.G. Records, 1980)

Brian Eno /Harold Budd - Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror

Track 1. “First Light”. We all open beers as the song slowly fades in. The stunningly beautiful combination of Budd’s gentle piano arpeggio and Eno’s shimmering ambience manages to hush an otherwise boisterous group of males in an unexpected way, until the night is filled only with music and the crackle of the camp fire. I am beyond mesmerized.

Track 2. “Steal Away”. My thoughts turn inward. Un-nameable, abstract memories rise to the surface sending a shiver down my spine. It is hard to tell whether they are good or bad memories – they defy description.

Track 3. “The Plateaux Of Mirror”. Conversation slowly returns. Friend Three tells stories of distant Asian countries. I listen but I’m not really there – I am still in the music somewhere between the sky, the earth and the strange impossible memories. I want to stay there.

Track 4. “Above Chiangmai”. Friend Two opens another beer. The crack of the tab temporarily snaps me back from wherever I’d gone. Conversations about the old school days, smiles and laughter, the warm feeling of shared experience. I listen from a distance.

Track 5. “An Arc Of Doves”. This song takes me even further beyond the Milky Way. A clunky analogy: Harold Budd’s piano tinkles are the stars and Brian Eno’s ambience is the dark matter holding it all together. The conversation grows louder. Friend One, normally the quiet one, is talking about shapes he sees in the campfire. I haven’t said much beyond “hmmm” and “yeah” but I have a smile on my face. I assume my friends think I’m getting quietly drunk. Little do they know I’m not even there.

Track 6. “Not Yet Remembered”. This track is the first distinct change of pace on the album. The strong minor piano chords and choral voices threaten to bring me back into the present. Damn it.

Track 7. “The Chill Air”. The clear night sky begins to cloud over and I feel the chill for the first time that night. We stoke the fire. Our happy revelry seems a little less certain. Dawn approaches.

Track 8. “Among Fields Of Crystal”. The conversation turns abstract. French girlfriends and Muppets, beer brands and the Australian music scene. My dream world is fading, the feelings drifting away. I join in the conversation.

Track 9. “Wind In The Lonely Fences”. A discordant, unsettling song. Beer. Friend Two breaks out a spliff. I don’t partake: “I’m high on the music, man.” Sniggers and derision. I laugh at my own pretentiousness. Loud burps. More laughter.

Track 10. “Failing Light”. Everyone has gone quiet again. Eyes glazed. Maybe it’s the beer and spliffage. I think it’s the music. The song takes me back to my private memory world for one last time. I drink it in. Back in the real world the dark is failing and daytime slowly approaches.

Ever since that weekend, Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror has been my go-to album for out-of-mind experiences.

Notes on the Artist:

After spending most of the 1990’s in Aussie indie rock band Pray TV, Martin Kennedy quit in 1998 to start up the instrumental ‘chilltronica’ outfit All India Radio. Since then, Kennedy and All India Radio have released nine albums, a bunch of award-winning videos, and have had songs used in CSI: Miami, One Tree Hill, Michael Moore’s Sicko and Australia’s long- running hit Bondi Rescue.

In 2004 Kennedy released a solo album under the moniker Big Spaceship and recently embarked on a prolific collaboration with The Church’s Steve Kilbey (“Under The Milky Way”), releasing 2009’s Unseen Music Unheard Words and this year’s White Magic. Both a new All India Radio album and a third Steve Kilbey/Martin Kennedy album are in production.