“What does rekindle mean?” Mark Kozelek asks on the opening track of Jesu/Sun Kil Moon, the transatlantic, collaborative album featuring Kozelek himself and Jesu – also known as Justin Broadrick, the co-founder of industrial metal outfit Godflesh. Kozelek has always had a knack for storytelling, providing his listener with a wealth of imagery and emotive lyricism that knows just where to hit you. His 2014 effort Benji was perhaps his most personal yet; a man who is slowly letting us in. 2016 sees that man, with the help of another, trying to rekindle with his audience.
With the fervent thrashes of Jesu, it’d be easy to assume that Kozelek’s vocals have faded into the background, paving the way for a more aggressive musicality than we’re used to concerning Sun Kil Moon. However, the collaboration has allowed Kozelek’s poignant lyricism to push forward, his words hitting harder than ever; a stream of consciousness allowing us access to a man who has embraced his vulnerability.
‘Last Night I Rocked The Room Like Elvis and Had Them Laughing Like Richard Pryor’ is perhaps the best example of this, as Kozelek reads out a fan letter that blasts the UK press, laughing at every interval. Broadrick’s thrashing is swapped out for melodic pickings on the stand-out ‘Fragile’, a tale which sees Kozelek speak fondly of a recently departed friend, as he sings, “He refused to suffer in a hospital ’cause he just wanted to live like everyone else and have fun and hang out.” Another striking example of Kozelek’s ability to make his listener think before they sway their heads.
This collaboration has allowed both artists to flourish in their sensitivity; Broadrick’s heavy guitars sound mournful, creating an emotive platform that gives rise to Kozelek’s output, their tones shifting as Kozelek’s urgency increases. It’s an album that is simple, yet challenges it’s listener to decide upon the man that Kozelek has become. After a wealth of bad press, pointing at his shortcomings and often aggressive behaviour, it’s an album that, thanks to Broadrick’s musicality, offers a renewed window into his world. A world that no longer separates the man from the music.
See Jesu/Sun Kil Moon at Colston Hall on Friday 16th September. You can grab tickets here.
Watch ‘A Song of Shadows’ below.