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Album Review

Even in the ‘80s, the Church — fronted by our boy Steve Kilbey — made music full of mystery, moodiness, and ‘60s psychedelic influences. On his own, Kilbey has a tendency to get even moodier and more mysterious, and White Magic is no exception. Even with the Church still active, Kilbey engaged in pretty frequent extracurricular activities in the 21st century, and White Magic is his second collaboration with fellow Aussie Martin Kennedy. Kennedy is a member of ambient pop outfit All India Radio, and the pair's first album, Unseen Music Unheard Words, was based largely around just the two of them. White Magic, however, incorporates the talents of Kennedy's other AIR bandmates, and bears a much fuller, more organically fleshed-out sound that's also more evocative and ethereal than its predecessor. Crafting ambient soundscapes is Kennedy and company's area of expertise, and they craft a world of gently shifting, swirling sounds to surround Kilbey's hushed, evocative vocals. Acoustic and electric textures mix freely, without the subtle electronic shadings found on the first Kilbey/Kennedy album, and the tracks move from the spare and intimate to the lushly orchestral without ever breaking the spell or the mood. Reference points for the languid feel, whisper-in-a-whirlpool dynamic, and psychedelic pop-informed ballads would be early-‘70s Pink Floyd at their most low-key, early Scott Walker, Robyn Hitchcock at his most autumnal, and the fragile psych homages of contemporary Brits the Clientele, but White Magic never feels like a retro excursion; it's an intoxicating, atmospheric piece of work that achieves a real sense of timelessness. ~ J. Allen, Rovi


Born: 13 September 1954 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The lead singer and bassist for Australian psychedelic pop/rockers the Church, Steve Kilbey began a solo career with the 1986 Australian release of Unearthed. Initially, his solo work was more experimental and textured than the Church's relatively straightforward pop. As he continued to record sporadically as a solo artist throughout the '90s and early 2000s -- including 1990's Remindlessness, 1997's Narcosis...
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White Magic, Steve Kilbey
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