The Church – Further/Deeper (Unorthadox)

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With a revitalised fourth man, Australian Icons and Hall of Famers The Church release their hotly anticipated 25th release, Further /Deeper, a twelve song album.

We begin by jumping into sublime guitar strings doing mighty things with ‘Vanishing man,’a somewhat combustible medium burning intensity. Further Deeper sounds good, there is a deeper edge, a dissonance, a questioning, something, not sure what- elusive, a depth like a long windy road reaching on into the highway of infinity, a fire in the belly of being.

The mixing is masterful and full of subtleties, featuring  8 different persons mixing efforts, each providing a different sonic mystique. It is an aura of pleasure- a soundworld, a landscape. It highlights the skill of the players, the studio processing environment as well as the Church’s use of fx. It swirls, it morphs, it pans, and shudders, shimmers with delays, verbs, dimensionality and distance. Further/Deeper is both near and far.

The strings sing in true Church style, and brilliant lyrics abound, Steve Kilbey charting different vocal territory throughout.‘Pride before the fall’ features a beautiful ethereal lightness, wonderful timbres and melodic infusions, with falsetto vocals and lyrics, which contrast the feeling conveyed by the instrumentation and arrangement. Midway through ‘Toyhead’ we are sonically shocked as the instruments mirror the lyrics “horrors return”, reminding me of the impact of their ‘Chaos their 8th album Priest = Aura.’ We are taken out by processed drums crashing, a new type of Church experience.

‘Laurel Canyon’begins acoustically, it is quite the contrast to ‘Toyhead’ taking us in another direction, the riff in the chorus is the best feature of this one. With minimal drums andlayers of guitars panned, it has a lightness to it, makes me think of old cowboys from the American Wild West. ‘Love Philtre’ catches me straight away with intrigue, this one questions? Drums enter with a funky groove to compliment, time signatures shift around. The layers are lovely to the ear, a Phillip Glass type piano part invites us to enter. Abrupt change makes one think another song has dawned half way, it returns, a female voice graces us as if from a distant mountaintop- from a lover longing to return to the beloved. Just when we capture it, it evolves with yet another element of change.

‘Globe spinning’ has a Sgt Peppers and Floydish vibe a musical surrealism, and reminds me of a movie I just can’t place. There is an evolution in this album, an embracing of more, drums are funky, and the beats compel one along. This road trip is worth it. Experimental edginess abounds with a real steady driving prog beat. Steve’svoce is suggestive with lots of subtle shades. Studio magic adds an aura of the otherworld- Further Deeper. The piano steadies us. I am reminded of Jeff Buckley’s Grace for a moment.‘Old Coast road’ is a feel good- this one could be a single as well, it cruises along and the organ is a nice touch, similar aesthetically to ‘Pride Before a Fall.’

Let us Go’ features a distorted snare, complex time keeping, more keys and I get a funny Beach Boy vibe from the chorus harmonies,  abit like the first listen to the bonus track ‘The Girl is Bouyant’. There are layers of voice, which pan like the old man in the forest jumping through trees with his flute, and I also feel elements off Pink Floyd’s second album Saucerful of Secrets.

Interesting chords abound on this album, the known and unknowns.  “Do you want to say hello to the Volkano” again touches on Sgt Peppers.‘Miami’begins with the ‘Destination’chordstrum. It could be a sample. Steve’s voice has the most presence in this one, more forward with minimal studio magic. Another priceless sonic gem from Australia’s finest band The Church, fit to travel the road of life with. Thank you The Church may your psychedelic symphonies long continue, producing masterful works fit for all generations of music lovers.

Catherine Meeson

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About Author

Catherine Meeson is a solo ambient electro / progressive folk rock songwriter/ composer from Melbourne, fascinated by the wealth of brilliance in the musical world.