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Video Premiere: "Nero" by Steve KIlbey & Gareth Koch

Gareth Koch and Steve Kilbey
20 July 2020

Gareth Koch and Steve Kilbey – Photo courtesy of Foghorn Records

Australian Steve Kilbey, founder and frontman of renowned long-running (alt-, space, psych-) rock band The Church, and European-born, Australia-based Gareth Koch, a classical/folk guitarist and composer have a fruitful musical communion.

They released their first album, Chyrse Planitia, as the duo Steve Kilbey & Gareth Koch several months ago via Foghorn Records / MGM, and they’ve already returned with their second record, Songs From Another Life (Music of Antiquity), out now through the same labels.

These two artisans have produced a unique musical creation with Songs From Another Life (Music of Antiquity). It’s an esoteric masterpiece which is difficult to define. It is an entirely new body of work, but evokes a living connection to the past that resonates with us all.

It is tantalizing to reflect upon how music of the ‘ancients’ might have sounded. Clues lie in the iconography and artistic representations of the pre-Christian era, and within specific types of folk music which have a living tradition.

This continuum provides an important framework for the attempt at reconstructing ancient music. The new album delves into Indian folk, flamenco, and Andalucian music, among other lineages.

It is significant that the earliest form of notation was created in Babylonia, probably around 1400 BC. The instructions are fragmentary, but the cuneiform tablets suggest that the music was composed using scales, harmonies, and gestures not altogether unfamiliar to today’s listener.

In the album’s liner notes Kilbey comments, “Working with language scholars and local musicians, we have attempted to bring these ancient songs alive. They have rendered the songs in a manner that is comprehensible to the modern listener. The songs and recordings represent the thoughts and sounds of a distant antiquity. Here then is the past – and now the past is here.”

Big Takeover is deeply pleased to host the premiere of the atmospheric video for “Nero,” a stark and equally forbidding and enticing track off the album.

Nero was an infamous Roman emperor who ruled from 54 to 68 AD and was part of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. The song’s lyrics are written from the point of view of Nero as his mind swirls in a madness of dreams and nightmares of his own making and undoing…

History has written that Nero was a tyrannical, extravagant, and cruel leader, but it also reveals that he was an advocate of the arts and athletics and even acted, sang, and played music.

The evocative video clip is fraught with symbolic images of Nero’s life, his rule, and his death, with quick-turning relics showcased against an ultraviolet-hued background hazed in smoke: statuary of Nero, a chalice brimming over with dark liquid, bountiful bowls of fruit, a soldier’s metal helmet, and a dagger point coursing with blood…