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Review of the Persia EP from RAM 1984 Print E-mail
Friday, 12 October 1984

Persia was one of two EPs (the other being Remote Luxury) that were eventually combined and released as the "Remote Luxury" album.  From RAM 1984, October 12th.

The vagaries of the Countdown/Top 40 style of success early in a band's career can, while undoubtedly giving that career a hefty boost, in the long run work to its detriment. When the later records fail to make as big a splash in the marketplace as the early ones, morale can take an unwelcome dive. Band, management, record company and agency all start blaming each other and matters start to take on a desperate edge - if the next record's not a hit... Ultimately, as in the case of the Sunnyboys, it can lead to a premature demise.

The Church however have weathered the uncertainties of here-today-gone-tomorrow stardom admirably. Although their time as flavour of the week has long since passed, they are at this stage of their career more together than ever.

Persia, the record in question, is - like their last release Remote Luxury - a five-track mini-album. Both will be combined into a regular album entitled Remote Luxury, which will be released Stateside by WEA.

It may be salient to bear this in mind when listening to Persia. In the past, there's been a considerable shift in sound from one Church record to the next - consider, say, the evident progression from Blurred Crusade to Seance, or from Seance to Remote Luxury. However, that's not the case this time around. Persia doesn't soudn all that different to Remote Luxury, but for all the right reasons. 

On Remote Luxury the Church arrived at perhaps a definitive sound, one that combined the guitar-driven textures of their earlier records with the more electronic atmospheres of Seance. That album saw them plunging too deeply into electronics, in an effort to sound contemporary. By Remote Lxury, however, they got the balance right...for the most part. There were still a few flaws.

Persia is, if anything, more assured. They haven't made a record which manages so well to sound both true to themselves and redolent of its time since the halcyon days Blurred Crusade. It opens with the insistent electronic rhythms of Constant In Opal - it's the most danceable thy've been in ages. in fact, the right remix would make a monster twelve-inch single.

One minute the Church are a dance band, then they shift into a different gear with Volumes, composed and sung by Marty Willson-Piper. Now they could be a satin-and-tat clad bunch of fey English popstars from the late 60s or early 70s. willson-Piper's Angloid vocals in particular contribute to this impression.

No Explanation, Violet Town and Shadow Cabinet are more typical: haunting pop dreamspaces. Across their impressionist surfaces ripple and flash the different elements - both old and new - of the Church's sound...that drugged drone of a voice, the swirling, jangling guitars, ex-Reel Craig Hooper's electronic keyboards and evocative sound effects. The whole thing is driven by Richard Ploog's relentless heartbeat. My only criticism is that it's possibly a little too smooth. A few frayed edges would add immensely to their charm.

So, a new Church record. It'll probably sell a few thousand copies to the hard-core fans and then sink beath your wisdom like a stone. Kilbey and his cohorts don't mind. They've got their wandering eyes fixed firmly on distant lands.

Frank Brunetti

Transcribed by Brian Smith

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