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Review of In Reflection Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 January 1987

A nice review of In Reflection

 

Unknown Australian Source
1987

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MARTY WILLSON-PIPER
In Reflection
(Chase/CBS)

by Michael Smith

This album proved at least two things: that the technology available to the musician today is such that a good album can be produced without leaving your bedroom, as against spending $30,000 in some high-tech 48-track recording palace; and that the Age of Aquarius is not dead.

In Reflection is as much a history of Willson-Piper’s coming to terms with that home recording technology as it is a gentle journey through his personal vision of the world and his music. The album is actually a series of demos recorded on his TEAC four-track machine between August 1983 and April 1985 -- in effect a kind of musical travelogue as the Church toured from country to country and state to state. For the music technicians, Willson-Piper has included a booklet describing the genesis of each track and the ‘tricks’ utilised to obtain the sounds to be heard -- such as the ‘snare sound’ on Art On The Run and Night Is Over, which turns out to be drumsticks striking copies of the Sydney Morning Herald.

The technical progression is quite audible too, from the simple drum machine of I Know I Won’t to the leap forward represented by MWP’s acquisition of a drumulator on Winter Splinter Bay. The arrangements become more adventurous, the experimentation in his mix of sounds more apparent. So Willson-Piper attains an extraordinary variety of moods, atmospheres and textures belying the limitations of working with a mere four tracks.

The songs themselves show just how opportune was the choice of Willson-Piper for a band like the Church. His solo material is an extension rather than complete break away from the activities of the band. The melodies and lyrics reflect his penchant for the minimalist, ‘avant-garde’ music of the ‘70s: German outfits like Can, Amon Düül and Neu!, and former Be-Bop Deluxer Bill Nelson. But he’s even closer to the stream-of-consciousness poetry of early Dylan and the cosy home-spun philosophies of Donovan and the late ‘60s folkies. His images flicker and shimmer with a gentility that obviously reflects Willson-Piper’s own inner peace, though the very occasional odd angry note does surface -- as on Volumes, a track that reappears here in demo form after the studio versions that graced the Persia EP and later the Remote Luxury album.

All in all, this is a very personal, very introspective set, recorded, as Willson-Piper notes himself, “at home in comfort, purely for the love of doing it,” So saying, it’s up to the listener then to decide whether he/she wants to join him on this quirky, idiosyncratic journey. It’s an album that would have been hugely influential in the dope culture days of the late ‘60s and ‘70s (despite an enormous debt to the Beatle’s albums Rubber Soul and Revolver), but in the current climate of the Me Generation, its quiet honesty will only touch the converted ... or the nostalgic. But then, that’s a lot of people for someone as self-effacing as Marty Willson-Piper.

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Transcribed by Mike Fulmer

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