“I’m trying to create a kind of a wild forest of sound, and it all should be tangling and interweaving. Things stop. Parts of the tree of dead, and they’ve stopped growing, and then other bits are sort of going bananas, and there’s flowers and thorns and weeds and moss. And when you look at it, it’s just one big hole.”
This is The Hall of Counterfeits, and Steve Kilbey has passed its corridors for several decades. A continuation of material he originally wanted to make on his third solo album Remindlessness in 1989, The Hall of Counterfeits goes down the many colored vestibules and opens every door, peering inside, out, and beyond any constructs.
“It’s more than this sort of the grandiose ambition of it,” says The Church frontman of the dichotomy between both albums. “When I did ‘Remindlessness,’ I wanted to make a sprawling double album of all kinds of styles, to give people a sonic playground to wander through. And then when this one came up, the ambition of it and the execution is completely different.”
Remindlessness was recorded in a home studio with samplers and drum machines and very few musicians—with the exception of a violinists. “This record is about musicians playing together,” says Kilbey, who welcomes a concoction of organ, piano, hurdy gurdy, cello and more bygone instruments on the 23 tracks of the double album. “It’s about the songs, but it’s also focusing on how I’d like to make records when I have access to really good players, arranging and getting them to play the way I want. A lot of musicians are very hung up on how their instrument should sound and what it should be playing. I just wanted to break all the rules. I didn’t want it to be like anything else.”
Along with his “Winged Heels”—many who worked on Kilbey’s 2020 release Eleven Women, a collection of songs centered around 11 distinct females—drummer Barton Price, Reuben Alexander on harmonica, harpist Taras Jones, and backing vocalist Rachel Poh, Halltravels through Turkish, Middle Eastern and other ancient beats on Hall tracks like “Amorous Plethora,” “Bound in Servitude” and “Horizon” with classically trained guitarist Gareth Koch, weaving in flamenco guitar and multi-instrumentalist Roger Mason (Models, Icehouse) jumping from nyckelharpa, Japanese key harp, an Irish accordion, various dulcimers, and other arcane pieces.