By Anthony Mark Happel
I suppose I should ask, “what took so long?” What took so long for Steve Kilbey, bassist/leader of Aussie legends The Church, and Martin Kennedy, leader of All India Radio, to get together and record an album? Both are notable fixtures in the Australian music community, and the prolific Kilbey has been involved with several projects outside of The Church over the years.
On Unseen…, Kilbey gets comfortable with Kennedy right away, and does as the Romans do, settling into a cool, middle-aged ambient buzz of an album. The opener, “Eyes Ahead” is a very good neo-pop song living underneath a hazy miasma of pseudo-psychedelic creations, and it actually kind of grows on you like a Church song. “Stars Maybe Soon” offers an example of the easy rapport of these two lions as they soar up into the Heavens, lifting off on the wings of an orange microdot spacecraft.
Kennedy’s repertoire of heartbreaking, hyper-melodic tunes is significant and he can do you in at a moment’s notice. Kilbey’s sensibilities pull some of these songs in directions they might not otherwise go without his gentle sugar- pop persuasion. I guess that’s the sign of a successful collaboration. The guitars make a suggestion of themselves only here and there, and give way to the sound as a whole.
That would be my one query here: why aren’t there are a few more other-worldly, holy spangled-guitar/bass moments? And while Martin Kennedy’s work as All India Radio is quite amazing most of the time, with gorgeous, chilly, spine-tingling progressions and some stunningly beautiful moments, this stuff is really more a result of the middle-of-the-road meeting that falls squarely, and sometimes rather flatly, between the two of them. I was hoping for something a wombat’s hair more transformative, but I’ll take what I can get at this point.