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The Church: Insinuating and Addictive

Doug Collette By

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The prolific output of The Church is in direct proportion to its devoted fans' appetite for the music. How else would this veteran Australian quartet be able to work so independently and successfully for over two decades, with only a single foray into the mainstream via 1988's "Under The Milky Way Tonight"?

The quality of the work has much to do with the support it receives as The Church records regularly in a variety of formats and concepts. But even as it maintains its native country as its homebase, the group never succumbs to insularity. Its means of reaching out to the world with their recordings, now available on its own label, Unorthodox Records, is but a further expression of The Church's confident single-mindedness.

Simultaneous with the release of its most recent full-length studio album Untitled #23, The Church has issued a CD single and an extended play CD, none of the seven cuts on which qualify as throwaways or mere filler. With the luxury of its own Spacejunk Studios, not to mention the extensive recording experience bolstered by drummer Tim Powles' technical expertise, the quartet knows how to add just the proper flourishes to maintain a given track's momentum, however dreamlike it might be.

The Church
The Coffee Hounds
Unorthodox Records
2009

Even the instrumental version of "The Coffee Song," the vocal version of which might have been worth inclusion on the full-length CD, can't be relegated to pure background: it's as well-crafted and sumptuous sounding as any of the three tracks on The Coffee Hounds disc. The Church cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" fits comfortably in the group's oeuvre too, as its cryptic yet vivid lyrical imagery dovetails with the lush guitars and ghostly echoes of the group's vocals. Because each of these three songs finds the band in perfect unison, playing and singing with a languorous verve, nothing on this CD single will reach out and grab a listener. Still, taken as a whole, it is as insinuating and addictive as the best of their latest work.

The Church
Pangaea
Unorthodox Records
2009

An excerpt from the full-length album, "Pangaea," acts as the introductory cut of a four-song EP, the track count of which belies its near half hour length. Like so much of The Church's original material, the song may seem introspective to a fault, but that's as much an intrinsic characteristic of the group's sound as the graceful floating sense of motion heightened by the impeccable sound quality.

The basis of the The Church's graceful sound, akin to a marriage of The Byrds and Pink Floyd, finds fruition in the 17 minutes plus of "So Love May Find Us" (which also serves as the name of its current extensive world tour). The disorientation emanating from the preceding cuts, "LLC" and especially "Insanity," becomes an enervated mood via bassist Steve Kilbey's halting delivery of his lyrics. Meanwhile, the whispered background harmonies of guitarists Marty Wilson-Piper and Peter Koppes, in combination with the splashing percussion of Tim Powles, offer comforting respite over the course of the extended instrumental passages. Nothing less than a tour-de-force, this track, in the context of this disc, may be the ideal introduction to the work of a distinctive rock and roll band.


Tracks and Personnel

The Coffee Hounds

Tracks: The Coffee Song; Hounds Of Love; The Coffee Song(Instrumental).

Personnel: Steve Kilbey: bass, guitar, vocals; Marty Wilson-Piper: guitars, bass, vocals; Peter Koppes: guitars, vocals; Tim Powles: drums, percussion, vocals.

Pangaea

Tracks: Pangaea; LLC; Insanity; So Love May Find Us.

Personnel: Steve Kilbey: bass, guitar, vocals; Marty Wilson-Piper: guitars, bass vocals; Peter Koppes: guitars vocals; Russell and Jane Grigg: backing vocals; Tim Powles: drums, percussion, vocals; Sophie Glasson: cello; Patti Hood: harp; Michael Bridge: violins; David Trump: Electone organ.


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