AU ABROAD

Album Review: Various Artists - Spirit of Akasha: Celebrating Morning of the Earth (2014 LP)

Spirit of Akasha is the compilation soundtrack for the Australian film of the same name. This two-disc insight into surf vibes, psychedelics and folk rock provided by names such as Pond, Matt Corby, Atoms for Peace and Grouplove - to name a few - is an excellent piece of music, but I realised that if I wanted to review this compilation, I had to understand what it was trying to achieve. Every good album has its own story, like a mission statement and to do that I had to discover the story of the original film - Morning of the Earth.

Surprisingly, I found a copy quickly at the local library. Undoubtedly, this is a surfer cult classic and a gem from the seventies. The surf film by Albe Falzon includes footage of surfers such as Nat Young, as well as some holistic and Age of Aquarius lifestyles. Everything is home-made including their surfboards and their homes. These psychedelic surfers are in search of that perfect wave.

The soundtrack to this intensely spiritual, feel good flick was listed in the book 100 Best Australian Albums published in 2010. By discovering this, reviewers and listeners alike can see Spirit of Akasha is a quest to recapture this spiritual journey of the ocean with soulful and honest music. The word "Akasha" means the intangible force that becomes the air, a force that becomes the liquids, that becomes the human body. Akasha is what connects us all.

The various artists on this album can be called "impressionistic". The songs and covers by these artists are incredibly transient of their place in time. They mimic the songs from the original soundtrack very well, not because they are covers - the music in Spirit of Akasha is original and new, but you couldn’t place a time or decade on this music. That is a sign of the artists’ expertise in creating the same sense of spirituality, but also a sign of the changing trends in present music. Folk and psychedelic music has been having its resurgence since the 90s and it’s interesting to see it rising and burning with such intensity in Australian trends too.

"To Be Young" by Andrew Kidman is a gentle soothing song to begin this two-disc compilation, Kidman also directs this cult film inspired production. Grouplove’s "Drifting On A Daydream" is equally inspiring and Matt Corby’s "What The Devil Has Made" matches the more upbeat surf rock tracks of the past film’s track list impeccably. That’s only the first disc. On Disc Two, Pond definitely embodies a more modern sound with its crunchy guitars for "Colouring The Streets", but quickly rolls into a melody reminiscent of rolling waves. Angus Stone also does a wonderful, thumping folk ballad, "The Weatherman".

Spirit of Akasha gives listeners a wonderful journey. Whether it is on an iPod or vinyl record player, listeners will be transported back in time to a visionary plateau where the waves of nature and the waves of human spirituality crash together. Prepare to find yourself in the riptides of these sometimes gentle; sometimes much more upbeat songs, by these recognized artists. This project is a wonderful way to mirror a very overlooked part of our nation’s history.

Review Score: 9 out of 10

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Spirit of Akasha: Celebrating Morning of the Earth is out now through Warner.