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Magician Among the Spirits - theI Print E-mail
Monday, 01 September 1997

From online magazine

THIS is not the last Church album, let's get that straight right away. Steve Kilbey said so just the other day. This is one hell of a Church album: let's also get that straight. Forget all the garbage going on about Magician Among The Spirits being pretentious, dated and fey; disappointing, lacking gut and imagination. The rantings of a few scribes who would hold rock in a holding pattern named grunge forever or guitar pop. Remember that most invention and creation is strongly resisted, particularly by those who can't embrace its scope, and are threatened by its lack of reverence for the "three-minute" burst. Rock music would have died decades ago if anybody had paid much attention to such drivel.

The very nature of rock is to celebrate the variegated tree of its heritage, source its roots and grow into the future unhindered by restriction. At it's very best - particularly on the 14-minute neo-tribal ambient art title track, the aptly-titled Grandiose where The Church ascend a gorgeous Marty Willson-Piper chordal pattern to uncharted atmospheres that echo heavenly and choral before riding a dirty beast of a lick through far space, It Could Be Anyone that develops off the quasi-tribal psychedelic hauntings of Sometime Anywhere and the fitting, poignant and simple piano finale Afterimage - Magician Among The Spirits raises the spectre of a band who reach brilliant new horizons where even the imagined potential is left asunder in the group's most coherent full-bodied album in many a year. Reuniting the core trio of Kilbey, Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes with drummer Tim Powell, Magician is almost classical in scope - an art of rock for the '90s. The sound and vision is vast as Kilbey takes the many threads of Sometime Anywhere and ties them in a sound sculpture amid which his love of his ambience is offset by the band's continued tread into the tribal, their inherent ability to shape the core of rock - harmony and melody - into a cliche-free oscillating power that floods on the wings of electricity and pounds with rhythmic thunder - anima and soma united in the celestial and cerebral. And for purists there's the finest Church guitar rock jangle since Almost With You - the symphonic Comedown, an immeasurable skein of majestic hook, riff and melody, footloose and fancy free, string-washed and buried in omnipotent brilliance. The Church, 10 albums and 16 years down the track, are virtually peerless and Magician Among The Spirits stands as both a stunning statement of a band in the full flush of invention and a dynamic expression of contemporary rock.
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