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Review of first album in England from Sounds magazine Print E-mail
Saturday, 06 February 1982

From February 6, 1982 edition of Sounds magazine. Lots of talk of psychedelia and Aussie jokes, but he liked the album.

 

The wonder of wombats

Fosters and acid. or tinnies and tabs, to use the vernacular. If the figment of our home-grown psychedelic revival seems a pain in the paisely, then the thought of a bunch of drippy hippies wearings beads and bush hats with multi-coloured corks dangling from the brim is probably enough to send you running screaming for the shotgun.


But wait! Because this is no case of cheap psychedelic revival bandwagon jumping. Psychedelic revival!? They probably haven't had their first stroll through those strawberry fields Down Under yet. No, somehow The Church magically manage to combine the raw individuality of their Australian background (although only two of the four band members are of true Antipodean origins) with the exotic, atmospheric sound kaleidoscope of th much of mid Sixties American West Coast music in a fresh and exciting way that has totally eluded all the other joss-stick jokers around at the moment.


Because The Church do stand so headband and shoulders above any other cycle dealer I've heard so far, they would probably do well to avoid getting bundled up with the whole vacuous 'movement' at all, but I fear the cut of the Oxfam meets Lord John clothes and the stylised elements in the their music, especially the ringing Byrds-like guitars, echoey, moody vocals and extensive studio trickery (I think there's even a backward tape guitar solo in there somewhere), will well and truly mark them down as flower power poppers whether they like it or not.


Still, turning to the music rather than the image, The Church's own personal workers of miracles are undoubtedly guitarists Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper, whose jangling Roger McGuinn influenced guitar runs like a thread of solid gold throughout this album.

As on the snappy psycho-pop of the opening track, 'For A Moment We're Strangers' with its extravagant rhythmic riffing and 12-string jangle coupled with real acid-head chants and mumbles that ebb and flow in the background like a liquid light-sow. Or the albums strongest and most obviously commercial number, 'The Unguarded Moment', boasting a dead-ringer for the Beatles' 'Here Comes The Sun' intro and plenty of techno-textured guitar.


It's this impressive musical flair and breadth of imaginative ideas that sets The Church apart as they stretch and flex their considerable technique to cover both the ginseng song of swirling psychedelia like "Bel-air" and Tear It All Away with more varied elements like the rock riff powerdrive of Memories In Future Tense" and the far-out-and-out weirdness of the haunting, ethereal Is This Where You Live?


It would be easy to dismiss all this new psychedelia guff as just so much corpse-kicking and fake fashion - I almost did it myself. All I am saying is give this particular piece a chance...


DAVID LEWIS

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