Reviews Search

Steve Kilbey and Martin Kennedy, "Jupiter 13"

Jupiter 13 cover imageAll India Radio's Martin Kennedy and The Church's Steve Kilbey are making beautiful magic again, this time on their sixth full length in just slightly over a decade. Kennedy works solo, weaving his audial spells before Kilbey hears any of the tracks. The fact that maestro Kilbey then extemporizes his lyrical magic in a matter of mere days makes their mixology more astounding. Their current incantation is given away by the cover, showing space oddity Kilbey untethered from his life-sustaining suit, landed on a barren planet with helmet cast aside. Kennedy's musical inspirations look to space, grounded by Kilbey's uniquely soulful and world-weary vocals. Voyaging through Kilbey's lyrical landscape provides openings to new dimensions, navigating through the shadows of 2020, giving even greater poignancy to Kennedy's musical spellcraft.


The album sets an ethereal tone with two men in disjointed conversation interrupted by the sound of sonar signals before dissolving into the sounds of NASA ground control which melts into the gentle but resigning "ADSR." Short for "attack sustain release decay," listen carefully to a world-weary life story bound together by music: "our life is a piece of music / you don't know how to conduct yourself anymore" ... "attack decay sustain release / the tempo is dragging, for god's sake play another piece." Carefully placed synthetic effects and sampled vocals are woven throughout the album, lending an air of otherworldliness enhanced by atmospheric layers of guitar and Kilbey's fluid bass.

Yet, for all the album's etherealness, the melodies remain solidly memorable. Like Dylan, Kilbey can craft stories that feel hauntingly autobiographical regardless of the reality. A recognizable feeling of resignation and regret flow throughout "Rendezvous," vocalizing like a rejected lover opining that "you always said / the best was yet to come / you made it seem / like anything was possible." Kennedy's tunesmithing is some of the most satisfying of all the Kilbey Kennedy creations, making full use of rich choral backdrops, sophisticated piano interludes, and balancing acoustic and electric guitar, never losing sight of the power of a tuneful chorus. The utterly catchy but haunting refrain of "Holiday" drips with nostalgia, a mournful earworm that echoes "sometimes I think of those beautiful days / beautiful nights I spent with you."

Closing track "Epilogue" questions "What were you searching for?" and a voice answers, "Searching? We were searching for the truth!" Music has served as an escape pod for the past year, and Kilbey echoes this sentiment in Jupiter 13's liner notes: "Martin prepares an escape pod which will double as his recording studio. He will float unconscious dreaming up symphonies that will be recorded by the software encoded in his spine." The album reverberates with a need to escape against mindful awareness of not being ground by the machine. This album provides a truly magical escape to both inner and outer space.

Samples can be found here.