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A snarky person might note how music in the afterlife begins during one’s funeral, as this is when the afterlife (assuming, of course, there is one) actually begins. However, musicians Gareth Koch and Martin

Kennedy presumably imagined moments somewhat after the casket lowering for these ten expressive instrumental compositions. They are truly meditative, even if you might not be able to create one-to-one

correspondences between these pieces of music, and some kind of life after death.

If nothing else, Music in the Afterlife strongly suggests there will be plenty of eclectic songs in the next world. There’s lots of guitar, both acoustic and electric, and sounds that are folkish, electronic and even

medieval at times throughout this effort. Instrumental music doesn’t instruct you about what to think or imagine. It can help set your mood, however, and this pair’s collection of instrumental pieces does take you away into various differing mental states. To somewhere else, anyhow.

For example, the pulsing rhythm of “Valley of Echoes” suggests a kind of flight above a region never seen by mortal eyes. It’s slow, echoey (as its title suggests) and moody.

The most ‘pop-y’ and memorable selection here is the opener, “Trance.” It combines a consistent bass-y rhythm with an acoustic guitar noodle atop it. There is also percussion driving the track, as well as some

electric guitar notes. And yes, it may well put you in a trance. It lasts just over two minutes, but it is also an instrumental that one can well imagine being the basis for a song with words. It’s followed by

“Waiting,” which may well describe anyone reading this – that is, anyone still alive. We spend a good part of our existences on this earth wondering what, if anything, is awaiting us once we die. We’re all on a need-to-know basis, until we pass away. Then again, afterlife may not put us directly into the place we’ll exist for eternity. Perhaps, there will be a waiting period. A purgatory, if you will.

Koch and Kennedy don’t claim to know the answers to all these questions. Theirs is not the music of explanation, but instead the sound of exploration. These are notes and melodies that reflect reflective minds. It is, for the most part, quiet and gentle music because we cannot contemplate such subjects during the busyness of our everyday lives. No, much slow down. Breathe deeply and let our minds take us on a journey far away from limiting modern life thoughts. Advertisers do their darndest to make us only think about what we want and need right now. (Well, unless they’re advertising funeral homes or life insurance). For the most part, though, we’re pushed to only think a few steps ahead of ourselves. These two creatively talented musicians have found a way to put contemporary life into slow motion. Anything that might distract is set aside. Such distractions are replaced by music that puts mental processes into a much more mediative state.

Although it would be foolish to attempt to read any sort of theology into these tracks, one nevertheless gets the impression the afterlife holds nothing but positivity. For example, nothing on this release

mirrors anything like hell with all its eternal suffering. Blue Oyster Cult had a big FM radio hit with a song titled “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and Gareth Koch & Martin Kennedy suggest much the same thing with their lovely Music in the Afterlife collaboration.

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