Music for Plants, Jellyfish and Ghosts 

All Night Radio plays for everyone

It's the wee hours of the morning, and you're driving a lonesome stretch of asphalt, miles and miles from your destination. It seems you're the only living thing in the world. To help quell this feeling of isolation, you turn on the radio, hoping for some link to the kingdom of the living, and as you advance through the stations, the variety of sounds begin to melt together and form their own unique song right there in your vehicle, something everyone can hear but that's also spontaneous and unique to your ears, your car and you.

This is what All Night Radio calls the "Spirit Stereo Frequency," and this is what they--two members of Beachwood Sparks, Dave Scher and Jimi Hey--are trying to create in their music.

"It's a bit of imagination," explained Scher. "We don't actually have an antenna; it's not a real radio station; it's an album with this idea, what if what if what if, perhaps. And hopefully it's entertaining, and if you've ever been up ... I'm sure Tucson has some very bizarre radio at like two in the morning. If you're flipping around in your car you'll mix the Yeah Yeah Yeahs here, and maybe some church programs, and hopefully some Spanish language programs. We're very influenced by that."

All Night Radio's first record, Spirit Stereo Frequency, just released on Sub Pop, is a psychedelic mix of pop guitar, strange sounds and '60s-style rock that goes quite well with the press materials (the band's bio sheet is easier to read with 3-D glasses, which were not provided) and album art, which depicts Scher and Hey being transported out of a city and onto a grassy knoll surrounded by palm trees. The mode of transportation seems to have something do with the blue halo that surrounds both Scher and Hey; in other words, what's transporting them is probably something unseen, something like the Spirit Stereo Frequency.

Explained Scher, "The name came from just the idea of where the music was coming out of, it's sort of this idea that there's this sound source that defies time and space somewhat in that you're able to listen to music that's also being enjoyed by plants and jellyfish and ghosts that haven't even been born yet. You know, it's just this idea that you have a radio program that comes in on a Spirit Stereo Frequency, so that it's going to be something different, and it'll probably hit each person's ear a bit differently."

In early February, All Night Radio, who call Los Angeles home, opened up for the Shins in San Diego at Canes Ballroom. Scher and Hey took the stage alone, playing guitar and drums, respectively, accompanied by a recording. The music was loud and sonically complex; Scher's live guitar was layered over more guitars, strange sound effects, vocal effects and keyboards to the point where the audience wasn't quite sure what was live and what was prerecorded. In this age of ever-advancing technology, it's entirely possible for two guys to form a band that sounds like 10 guys, eight of whom are playing through a laptop hooked up to the PA on stage.

This, however, is not All Night Radio's goal. Said Scher, "It isn't so much a decision to build the group around that. That's just the way that we're working at the moment; it's gonna change constantly. It has something to do with manpower and how many people would it take to really make that kind of a sound, and the two of us were really the only people around. But as we can add people and change our situation, that is really the most important thing, the line, the way it's all arranged at the moment."

"The moment" is really what All Night Radio's messing with-- music so saturated in the moment that even the unborn jellyfish can pick up on it and shake their little tendrils. Scher put it this way: "It isn't about people or no people; it's more about the ultimate goal of being able to have something satisfyingly awesome."

More by Annie Holub


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