premonition kPremonition K – Kilbey Kennedy (Foghorn Records)
I came not to praise Prog Rock but to bury it. You know, throw on a “Pink Floyd” T-shirt with a handwritten “I Hate” appended to the front of the band name, just like it’s the King’s Road in London, circa 1976.

The claws were out and the poison pen primed with ink. It was time to snarl about pomposity and pretentiousness, declare a fatwah on all hippies and kick out some serious wordplay jams . This War Against The Jive is relentless, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer truly do suck dogs’ balls.

It's doubtful that Steve Kilbey would give a rat’s arse through a hazy cloud of early morning bong smoke if you, me or a waiter at his favourite Bondi eatery condemned his latest record with composer Martin Kennedy as a reason for somebody to go off and re-invent Punk. They’re onto their third album…and they just keep getting better.

There was no AI needed, just old fashioned Wikipedia, to re-visit the definition of Prog Rock.  Wiki says it’s “based on fusions of styles, approaches and genres, involving a continuous move between formalism and eclecticism”.

It goes on: “Due to its historical reception, the scope of progressive rock is sometimes limited to a stereotype of long solos, long albums, fantasy lyrics, grandiose stage sets and costumes, and an obsessive dedication to technical skill.”

The cap only partially fits. “Premonition K” is a dozen songs, but most of them are about three-plus minutes long. It is reliant on epic sounds but there are no over-wrought guitar solos, just economical ones. Lush keys and smattering of strings and winsome female backing vocals pervade. Passages of conversation drop in and out.

As for the rest, no stage sets were harmed or even constructed during this album’s recording, and how Kilbey or Kennedy choose to dress when they’re on their own time is entirely an issue for them and their valets.

Anyway, we skipped the introductions. Kilbey doesn’t need one. if you didn’t know, Kennedy is the only constant member of All India Radio, an ambient studio collective with more albums than I’ve had hangovers. Kennedy’s compositions have graced the soundtracks of “CSI: Miami”, “Bondi Rescue” and scores of other massively popular shows I’ve never watched or streamed. Beats bumping in backline.

Have you heard “The Hypnogogue”, last year’s studio album by The Church? Colleague Rob Brokenmouth rates it one of their very best. Can’t say I paid it much attention as it was hard to move past the prejudice that it was Last Man Standing (Kilbey) and The Hired Hands. “The Hypnogogue” merits a better listen but at first blush, “Premonition K” seemed (and seems) a better, more complete album.

The music of Kilbey Kennedy is mostly Kennedy and the words Kilbey. A lyric sheet would have been handy but would have taken away much of the mystery. The song “Premonition K” (presuming it is a song and not a poem) isn’t on the album but appears on the inside cover, and is as enigmatic as any Tom Verlaine outpouring.

Narcotically delivered, sometimes impenetrable, Kilbey’s prose is a big part of the attraction.  Let’s face it, actually listening to music instead of consuming it is so passe. The take-out is that Kilbey has never sung better.

Sonically speaking, “Special K” is a deeply immersive trip and the production by Kilbey, Kennedy and (mixer and masterer) Simon Polinski is magnificent.

And “The Contender” is the best song The Church never recorded.


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