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Album Review

One medium-length and one extremely long composition comprise this collaboration between two of New Zealand's finest underground musicians, violinist Alastair Galbraith and Constantine Karlis, drummer for the psychedelic band High Dependency Unit. Naturally, space is the place where they find themselves throughout Radiant, and it's mostly a resplendent domain. The music is genuinely dynamic — all the normal modifiers, from blissful to hypnotic to disorienting, apply at various times — yet, especially on the title track, also goes through the occasional tedious patch. Even during the more prosaic sections, however, both players are scintillating. Galbraith's instrument goes through the range of textures, scraping its bow against the heavens, avant-garde style, one moment — usually transcendently — and, in the next, drawing from the long Celtic melodic tradition (his violin sometimes even mimics bagpipes), while adapting it to his particular needs. And Karlis is equally at home keeping a utilitarian tempo that allows Galbraith's alien landscapes to carry the moment, inventing irregular and dexterous fills to match the strangeness of the space through which the duo is traveling, or laying down heavy-duty bass-and-snare grooves that keep the ship propelling toward the light. "4 Orbits," by contrast, is a haunting mural of metallic found sounds and ominous tribal rhythms trapped in an otherwise empty room. It is as internal and agitated as its predecessor is sweeping and exploratory. Both merit canvassing more than once.


Born: New Zealand

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

New Zealand-based singer/songwriter Alastair Galbraith first emerged during the mid-'80s, playing in Dunedin area bands including the Rip and Plagal Grind. Making his solo debut with 1992's Morse, he became known for his signature abbreviated songwriting style, with most of his compositions clocking in under two minutes. After...
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Radiant, Alastair Galbraith
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