White Magic
by Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy


Unseen Words Unheard Words was the first collaboration between these two artists to being very much a likable great album. The question now for White Magic how do you do something that is as impressive at the first project was. You manage the follow-up with arranged and orchestrated magical brilliance of course.

Opening track is called The Demo. This is such an original song title but listen close and you discover a great ambient pop song that it really is. Close is the second track which is a little beat more of an upbeat approach to it with great story telling by Steve Kilbey's tranquil vocal abilities thrown in for good balancing in the song. With the song Inner Country the emotional side of the record arises to explore deep intellectual feelings with.

The surprise single though might be Unfocused. This sounds something like a Depeche Mode David Gahan song with commercial radio written all over it though with a dark since to it. Even though this dark feeling to the song is evident, it is catchy to the ear. You might feel as though you are being taken on a journey through listening to this CD, but don't fear let go and have a great ride. Remember this though it's not some Disneyland three minute quickie amusement ride of a listening that's for sure. Whether if it's a sweet day dream you're taken on in the song Messiah Around, or if you feel as though you have been taken up real high and left on a Mountain then so be it as well too.

With compositions like Hope, Dreamstate and Sumer, these show the great song writing abilities that these two collaborators have going for them. If you're looking for great lyrics you might find with it grand poetics on the song The Broken Sea.

So give the whole CD a chance to work it's magic on you. Perhaps for me, it's a magical enhancement for my own memories. This is a powerful entanglement of an exploration journey combined in a tranquil emotional lift in different degrees. A commercial release as well. May the spirit release and fly from this within you.

A collaboration that appears to be gaining more substance with the release of their second album together is that of Steve Kilbey and Martin Kennedy. White Magic is an ambient mix of acoustic rock and spacious textures swimming under the distinctive lead vocals of Steve Kilbey and hypnotic backing vocals of Leona Prue and Selena Cross.

I have endeavoured not to make comparisons, but Steve's voice is so unique it's hard not to make connections with his former incarnate, The Church. For that matter the textural layers that the music creates are, in part, also reminiscent of Martin's band, All India Radio (they actually feature on the song "Close"). Martin seems to have his fingers in many artistic pies with drawings, animation and associations with other musicians such as Don Meers. This is definitely a partnership of two like-minded souls.

There is more to this album than just a reflection of their previous bands. It takes you for an emotional journey and, though the music has a luxurious richness, it is also very minimalist - space is as important as sound. This album will take you back, make you remember things you have long forgotten and jettison you forward to places you have never been. Enjoy the journey.

What happens when you combine a shaman poet and a musical mystic? Or an astral wordsmith and a dream weaver? Or a lyrical high priest and a soulful sorcerer? The answer to this and many of life's questions can be found on Steve Kilbey and Martin Kennedy's second record, White Magic.

These two powerhouses of Australian music bring their own originality and talents to a "more than a side project" affair. For Kilbey it is his ability to pull out clever and witty lyrics custom-built for the brain and the heart while Kennedy is the ambient instrumentalist from All India Radio who can create layer-upon-layer of sonic sounds without losing sight of the bigger picture.

This record seems almost custom-built for fans of Decoder Ring, The Flaming Lips and Kim Salmon & The Surrealists: it basically teases the senses with its variety of twists and turns with music that sounds like it could have been borne from freeform expression and other spontaneous and creativity inducing jams.

There is some Lynch-like atmospherics and Eno-weirdness (only the best) not to mention lots of delicate and light acoustic guitar. The success of this album is in its ability to create busy-sounding atmospherics but also keep the listener guessing with an added curveball here and there.

Inner Country is a heady combination of lush strings and subtle tape loops borrowed from The Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows. Elsewhere we get prayers, spells, secrets and other musings put to a dreamy psychedelic soundtrack for one altogether cosmic journey through space and sound.

There are those that would quite rightfully argue that the best piece of work that Steve Kilbey has done in a long time is his acceptance speech at last years ARIA Hall Of Fame awards night. So it comes at quite a surprise that hot on the heels of that piece of eccentric wonder, is the rather splendid White Magic.

For the second time, Kilbey has teamed up with ambient instrumentalist Martin Kennedy (All India Radio) for an album that plays to both of their strengths. Kilbey gives a breathy and restrained performance as Kennedy manipulates beats and otherworldly sounds for a bunch of tunes that unravel their charms slowly.

The Demo has a gentle melody that sneaks up on you and then refuses to let go while Intense is one of the more straight forward moments, and with its obvious guitar jangle mirrors the works of Kilbey's most famous outlet. It is the dreamier tunes that are the greatest success here however, it is the lithe Mountain and tender Inner Country that deserves the highest accolades.

Both Kilbey and Kennedy maintain a fairly hectic schedule, but if White Magic is any indication, they should find more time to create together. This is music that can act as the soundtrack to anything from doing the dishes to messing up the sheets.

Steve Kilbey and Martin Kennedy follow-up last year's U.S. release of "Unseen Music Unheard Words" with "White Magic", another collection of atmospheric tracks mixing Kennedy's electronic soundscapes with Kilbey's pop/rock background as one of the driving forces behind The Church.

"White Magic", much like its predecessor, is another relaxing listen from start to finish. These songs would work on their own as instrumentals there is so much lush beauty going on underneath Kilbey's vocals. The prominent use of acoustic guitar certainly calls to mind some of The Church's classics, especially on tracks like "Unfocused", "Intense" and "Hope".

Favorites here include album opener "The Demo" which starts with spacey keyboards before a slowed down beat and guitar pattern carries the song along, the lovely mix of piano and acoustic guitar in "Mountain" and album closer, the sparse but gorgeous "The Broken Sea".

This is a collaboration I hope we continue to see more of. For two straight years, Kilbey and Kennedy have produced an engaging and enchanting album. "White Magic" certainly won't get any attention from commercial radio, this is one you'll have to seek out and it is worth the time to do so. A hypnotic listen.

When music royalty Steve Kilbey (known for his work with the legendary 'The Church') teamed up with the extremely talented Martin Kennedy (from the award-winning 'All India Radio') what resulted was the terrific album 'Unseen Words Unheard Words'... the big question was how do you manage to follow-up what has been described as an "album of brilliance"?

Well, Kilbey and Kennedy answer that question by delivering 'White Magic', an album that is made of 11 tracks of perfection.

Kilbey & Kennedy - Legends

Fans of All India Radio will fall instantly in love with opening track, 'The Demo'... this is the kind of music that All India Radio have perfected over the years and with the added bonus of Kilbey's voice and you have one very special piece of ambient pop.

'Close' sees Kilbey's vocals enhance some great story-telling lyrics (in the vein of Paul Kelly) while 'Intense' sees Kilbey/Kennedy go upbeat with some smooth rock. This sound continues with the emotional 'Inner Country' and the very catchy 'Unfocused'... tracks that will win over even the most hardened music critic.

White Magic - Music That Takes You On A Journey

Like all music that Martin Kennedy is involved with, there are tracks on 'White Magic' that will make you feel that you are being taken on a journey. The beautiful harmony of 'Mountain' makes you feel that you are being lifted up into the clouds while 'Messiah Around' has you believing that you are trapped in a sweet daydream.

'Hope' is sweet ambient pop at its best, while the harmony-driven 'Dreamstate' is ideal for anyone who wants to hear perfect songwriting should be done, while 'Sumer' shows just how good of a composer Kennedy really is. How the Kennedy/Kilbey combination works is shown perfectly on 'The Broken Sea'. Kilbey makes the lyrics sound like poetry while the music seems to have captured the true sounds of the ocean.

Summing Up White Magic

'White Magic' is clearly one of the albums of the year... it is even guaranteed to win over those who loathe ambient pop. The music to be found here is truly beautiful and this duo continue to show why they one of the most gifted and exciting music projects going around.

It doesn't matter how many times you listen to this album, each time you hear it you seem to hear something new and fall even more in love with it. 'White Magic' is a must-have for any serious music fan's collection.