There is a grand, epic quality to the music of Melbourne three-piece instrumental group, Silver Ray. With most tracks over ten minutes in length, Silver Ray allow their music to slowly evolve and take the listener through a highly emotional musical journey that ranges from gorgeously sublime to stunningly powerful.
Their brilliant debut album, This Is Silver Ray was released in June 2001 to immediate critical acclaim and, perhaps surprisingly given their strictly instrumental outlook and extended track format, strong commercial success. A Triple J radio national live session showcased their assured live sound, and helped their debut album remain in the Association of Independent Record Label album charts for an incredible eight months after it's release.
The band's second album New Love - released in July 2002 was an instant hit with independent radio receiving the coveted 'Album of the Week' on Melbourne's largest independent radio station, 3RRR.
Having sold out its initial pressing two weeks after its release, New Love continues to enthrall listeners throughout Australia. 'New Love' is licensed through Brokenhorse Records in Europe and the US, being released in those territories in January 2004. This release of New Love has been accompanied by rave reviews in the UK press and a tour of the UK and Europe was undertaken in November 2004 including a number of European supports for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Silver Ray's third album Humans was released in August 2004 on Pharmacy Records and later in that year in the UK via Pharmacy UK and Shellshock Distribution. The band is currently working on new material for their fourth album.
"Instrumental, experimental music by a Melbourne trio championed by Nick Cave doesn't sound like a recipe for fun. Yet Silver Ray are as deliciously exciting as a spin across a slippery dance floor. Think Mogwai on a diet of Crowded House and sunshine; the Polyphonic Spree without vocals. This is a strange symphony of military beats and spine-tingling cymbals, edgy guitars and moptop melodies, tender piano and sci-fi synths.
This is the band's first album to be recorded live in the studio, its disparate parts pulled together by a shared passion rather than tinkering and trickery. Like emotions fluttering across a face, the album traces the haunted jubilation of 14-minute epic Winter is Behind Us to the frazzled ache of Live then Die, which swells from world-weary jazz to an anxiety-ridden argument between piano and guitars that leaves both exhausted.
Though the emotional impact of the music is reminiscent of silent-screen soundtracks, Big Mystery is more Psycho meets Alien - like stepping into a scene of a crime while falling into a black hole. A triumph of imagination without pretension."
- Betty Clarke, The Guardian,
Friday December 3, 2004 (4/5 stars)
"Instrumental albums featuring but four tracks should, and do, set the prog-rock warning sirens ringing loud and long. But Silver Ray - Australia’s finest and possibly only piano/drums/guitar trio - effortlessly rise above such presumptuous conclusion jumping to produce some hugely impressive sounds.
Opening 15-minute epic ‘Winter Is Behind Us’ sets out their stall on this, the band’s third full-length offering. With a military drumbeat tattooed beneath some gloriously bright-sounding guitar runs and piano, it rapidly becomes both hypnotic and intriguing. Punctuated by a blend of the powerful, the majestic and the bombastic, the remainder of Humans is every bit as fascinating. An unexpected gem."
- Steve Lee, manchesteronline.co.uk,
Friday December 1, 2004 (4/5 stars)
"Silver Ray's third album Humans was recorded live in the pre-dawn chill between 1am and 5am. To make note of this would for most amount to a cheap shot at pretension, though for avid Silver Ray listeners it provides valuable perspective. Theirs is a strong, dark body of work and the perfect complement to twilight atmospheres and pre-dawn excursions.
What is immediately striking about Humans is the 'Ray's ability to continue the momentum established over previous releases, remaining 'on point' following previous long player New Love. Brett Poliness opens "Winter is Behind Us" with a strident graceful roll on drums, the romantic swagger building before a blood rush by all threatens to overwhelm, guitarist Cam Butler gently raining down sheets of noise. Calm descends as Julitha Ryan provides an ambient spaciousness on keys, providing a beautifully serene centerpiece within the lengthy opener.
"Live Then Die" climbs steadily toward a tremelo wigout before breathing out into more comfortable measured tones. "Live in Hope" closes the release on a bright expansive note, Julitha Ryan on keys again displaying a real personality in her work, boldly playing out front rather than within. Their warmth, musical telepathy and intuition is such you forget you're witnessing what is essentially a 'live take'. A golden moment arrives when the pulse quickens on "Live in Hope" without a hint of uncertainty, the sound becoming more than the sum of its parts."
- Brian Stradbroke, Luna Kafe
|"Without a shadow of a doubt, Silver Ray are the finest instrumental group to emerge from Melbourne since the Dirty Three."
- Album of the Week - Beat Magazine
"Silver Ray sound defiantly alone and confident in their own musical corner.Impeccably arranged timed and controlled."
- The Wire
"Rivetingly woven.. Tortoise/Godspeed freaks should go a bundle."
- Uncut Magazine
"Beautifully titled, New Love has a magnificent warmth and uplifting feel. Listening to it in my car I regularly find that I can’t remember the last few kilometres of road that I’ve recently driven down. It’s the sort of music that picks you up very softly, transports you in a massive crescendo, and then gently plants you down again ready for the next track. Silver Rays brand of music sticks visuals in your mind – 'Come On Baby' gives me that great feeling of raw excitement and youth like driving your first car down to the beach for the holidays. What I particularly like about this music is that in a 12-minute track nothing stays still, everything changes but remains the same. The subtleties of Silver Ray make them stand above most other bands at the moment.
Silver Ray is like nothing that is going around at the moment. A 3 piece band that sound like silence and a 20-piece band all in one. Do your ears and your headspace the favour. Buy it."
"Coming from a totally different angle are Silver Ray, whose New Love album (Broken Horse) has been playing round these parts for some time now. I first heard the lengthy instrumentals that make up the album a couple of years ago on a rogue cassette tape, and I thought then that they sounded beautiful, like the ghosts of early Felt records refracted through an Arizona sunset. Or a Victoria sunrise, which might be more appropriate since Silver Ray hail from Melbourne. And sure, the lengthy, orchestral post-rock machinations might so easily be linked with Godspeed! and Mogwai, but maybe that’s just too easy, and what about the aforementioned Felt or Durutti Column, and what indeed about July Skies? Of course the key here might be that those last few groups were and are too Pop savvy to ever indulge themselves in seventeen minute escapades, but so be it. There’s nothing wrong with stretching out in the right situation, and Silver Ray are certainly one of those right situations."
- Plan B Magazine
|“Carried by soft piano and guitar cataclysms, there is much to recommend this record. The thrill is the sheer maverick spirit and underlying menace. At points the band open up without comprimising their bite and at other points they are as black as the devil, streak of vengeful, often beautiful meloncholy on a plateau of fatal desolation.”
- Beat Magazine, Melbourne
“This is an album you can lose yourself in……enthralling, engrossing and beguiling."
- InPress Magazine