// Album Recommendation

Isidore

Isidore

(2004)

“We've been drifting
Thousand miles over our heads
We were drowning
Down in river mouths and beds.”

Isidore Debut Album Cover

Songwriter, bassist, and lyricist Steve Kilbey -– lead singer with spectacularly creative Australian Alternative Rock band The Church -- is an extremely prolific musician, who never rests on his laurels, always soldiering on in the face of adversity (heroin addiction in the ‘90s, lack of commerciality, financial problems, etc.). This admirable work ethic, and his passion for his art, has resulted in an impressive body of work that includes various solo albums and side projects (See Steve Kilbey), which makes it very exciting and gratifying for fans to follow his career.

Sometime during the recording sessions for The Church’s 2003 masterpiece Forget Yourself, Steve Kilbey commenced yet another project, this time around with American musician and Church fan Jeffrey Cain (ex-Remy Zero). This particular collaboration differed itself from every other Kilbey side project up until then -– in the sense that the album was conceived by a long-distance musical relationship; Jeffrey Cain would send the backing tracks via email, and then Kilbey would write the lyrics and record the vocals in Bondi Beach, Australia, where he lives -– in other words, he didn’t write any of the actual music. Truth be told, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Steve Kilbey actually did co-write the music on Isidore’s eponymously titled debut album, that’s how heavily indebted the atmospheric sound of Jeffrey Cain’s painstaking compositions and arrangements is to Steve Kilbey and The Church. Steve Kilbey: “Genius is a hard word, I shouldn't really lay that on Jeffrey, but I think he's extremely intelligent and clever in the way he has created this music and he's tailored it exactly for me…I think that's the gestalt thing that happens between partners that are in sync with each other.”

After a Church concert performance in America, with Jeffrey Cain in attendance, Steve Kilbey received a CD containing the backing track for what would eventually become Transmigration, which he listened to at his motel later that night. Steve Kilbey: “And I did a vocal on it in L.A., immediately, because I wanted him to know that I was really into this, and gave it back to him.” It’s no wonder that Steve Kilbey was as enamored with Transmigration as he was; it’s a song of rare beauty by an unusually gifted and creative composer/arranger: alluring, captivating and mystifying, with intricate instrumentation consisting of layers of varied and nuanced guitar sounds and effects that are alternately smooth and abrasive, a perfect fit for Kilbey’s world of contrasts and contradictions. Steve Kilbey: “See, this is the magic of Jeffrey Cain –- to suggest wide open spaces and intimacy, both at the same time. That is the kind of contradiction that will pull you back to the record for the rest of your life…”

Another standout track is Refused On Temple St., an ethereal song floating on acoustic and electric guitars, understated drums, bass and celestial harmonies; it received frequent airplay on Alternative radio in the U.S, as did Isidore’s two most obvious singles, the dramatic Musidora and the widescreen Electro-Pop song Sanskrit. Other highlights on Isidore include Saltwater’s stuttering electronic motif, the Trip-Hop beats and backwards guitar of Ghosting, and the intensity of One For Iris Doe and its characteristically enigmatic lyrics (“And when I say you're not thinking straight / I really gotta tell you, mate / It's checkmate / Ain't that great? / Do you believe in fate?”). Isidore’s debut album showcases all the qualities of The Church’s greatest recordings; light and dark, mysticism, cinematic soundscapes, fantastic musicianship. To those familiar with Steve Kilbey’s output, Isidore is an exhilarating, aesthetically beautiful amalgam of The Church’s Priest=Aura and his 2008 solo album Painkiller. Cain's and Kilbey's Isidore is up there with the best work either of these two musicians have ever done.

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