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ULTC review from Sydney Morning Herald Print E-mail
Friday, 14 April 2006
Originally published at http://www.smh.com.au/news/cd-reviews/uninvited-like-the-clouds/2006/04/13/1144521450667.html on April 14 2006

Uninvited, Like the Clouds

By Bernard Zuel
April 14, 2006

Summation of The Church's 26 years draws from all the elements with sure hands.

There is a difference between being backward-looking and drawing on the past: one seeks comfort in the familiar to avoid having to deal with the present; the other draws strength from earned knowledge to enhance the present.

Musically, it means the difference between repeating (because the best ideas have already happened) and encompassing (because good ideas, then and now, are still good ideas).
So, my saying that the new album from Messrs Kilbey, Koppes, Willson-Piper and Powles is the kind of collection that will warm the hearts of those for whom the 1980s and early 1990s remain the golden years of the Church, should not be read as an indication that the band has retro-fitted its career in its 26th year.

For a start, while the results did fluctuate in the past decade and a half, the Church made some quite captivating, dramatic and atmospheric music in that time, even if fewer people heard it. Second, we should not forget that in hindsight it's possible to see the limitations and weaknesses of the first half of the band's career. And third, crucially, rather than slipping on the old paisley shirts and saying "remember us, please", Uninvited, Like the Clouds is a summation of 26 years, drawing from all of the elements with sure rather than desperate hands.

So across these 12 songs - in various combinations, in varying degrees - are pop melodies, charged ambience, oblique lyrics, classically romantic imagery, ascending guitars and droning chords, gargoyles and angels.

It is possible, then, and comfortable to contain songs such as Space Needle, Easy, Real Toggle Action and Never Before on the same disc. Like Block, the compelling opening track that has traces of German art rock, Space Needle takes creeping tension as its starting point, a low throbbing bass line, sweeping night-time guitars and a hoarse Steve Kilbey vocal.

In contrast, Easy has a familiar mix of 12-string rhythm, a thin bed of synths, a lead guitar line with echoes of 1982's Different Man and a drawled melody line. And while Real Toggle Action has an opiate edge to its urban moodiness, Never Before offers a dream-like, Pink Floyd pastoral moment.

The particulars may differ from track to track but the focus never changes: this is the Church as a sum of its parts, both old and new.

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