To loosely paraphrase the lead singer for the Church, the best and worst things about a band member’s solo career is that there is no one looking over their shoulder saying “you probably shouldn’t do that”. And with that, welcome to Steve Kilbey’s solo career, an impressive display of creativity branching from the man’s already-exploratory space-psych day job. Even when allowing someone of Kilbey’s stature the mandatory indulgences of going it alone, it’s plain to see that this man will never run out of ideas. And to anyone who wants to play catch-up in one fell swoop can spring for his breathtaking new box set Monsters n Mirages.
Included in the package is Unearthed, Earthed (the all-instrumental companion to Kilbey’s book of the same title), The Slow Crack coupled with his debut single This Asphalt Eden, Remindlessness, Narcosis + EP, Dabble (which at one time seemed to go out of print suspiciously fast, Artifacts (a previously unreleased collection of rarities), and Freaky Conclusions. That’s eight CDs in all. All that’s missing is the unplugged performance Acoustic & Intimate and 2008’s spacey, monstrous and relentlessly tuneful Painkiller.
If the price tag intimidates you, then you can head on over to Amazon.com and put together a groovy 35-minute sampler for free. “The Neverness Hoax” will give you a clear idea as to why, in 1990, Kilbey was a little more excited about his side projects than the Church. With the re-sequencing of The Slow Crack, the anthem-in-waiting “Fireman” is the first to greet the listener in all its three-chord glory. Even “This Is Goodbye”, a demo buried in obscurity for possibly a very long time, has all the Kilbey hallmarks one finds through early Church songs; an unassuming place where mystery and the great outdoors meet, and you never can quite articulate the reasons why you like and/or identify with it. Experimental pop that deserves a wider audience than just Church fans, Steve Kilbey’s solo career is great because no one was there to mess with it all along.