Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy Unseen Music Unheard Words

At a time when Steve Kilbey's work with the Church is among the best in his career, it isn't a surprise that this new collaboration with Australian musician Martin Kennedy is another solid recording. Considering that Unseen Music Unheard Words was written in two distinct phases, it's a remarkably cohesive album. Kennedy, whose band All India Radio have created several instrumental albums influenced by the likes of Ennio Morricone and Boards Of Canada, recorded the music first and then Kilbey wrote the lyrics to what were essentially completed songs. The mood is definitely lighter than on the last album by the Church, Untitled #23, but it's hardly upbeat, plus there is an underlying bleakness in the lyrics that's the most gripping part of the album. That doesn't necessarily translate into a record that is easy to listen to. Like some of David Sylvian's work from the past decade, the songs are more concerned with creating an atmospheric mood than following any conventions, and that is one of its weaknesses. Those meandering songs hang around longer than they should and the album is just too long at 51 minutes, especially because it works best as a whole rather than listening to isolated songs. Unseen Music Unheard Words succeeds because of Kilbey and suggests that there could be a more striking product of this collaboration in the future. This will do nicely in the meantime. (Second Motion)