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The Church
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Further Deeper Reviews Part 2 Print E-mail
Sunday, 26 March 2017

More Further Deeper reviews found on various web sites.

Beat -

Steve Kilbey and his Churchmen continue their prolonged cosmic journey with almost evangelical zeal. Of Skins and Heart emerged in 1981 and since that time there have been records bearing The Church moniker almost on an annual basis. That makes for a lot of records and songs. Kilbey has over 700 songs registered with APRA, and undoubtedly even he would be pressed to name each one. Further/Deeper provides no surprises, just more of the quintessential Church psychedelic renditions stretching over twelve songs with almost biblical numerology.


No longer part of the crew is Marty Wilson-Piper, one of the pillars of the band along with Kilbey, Peter Koppes and Tim Powles. His position has been taken by former Powderfinger man Ian Haug, and it is almost a hand to glove fit. This restructure has seemingly not harmed the band and a favourable group chemistry evolves behind the avatar words of Kilbey. Often, the music contains a rococo flurry of notes which elicit a disengaged cool and bemusement. It is almost like immersing yourself into a sonic bath with the band.


Kilbey sounds as sincere as ever and despite the familiarity of the palate, the band are still ferocious when the need arises. Importantly, they do not grate. Lyrically, from Vanishing Man onwards the listener feels like they are being led toward a divine spark that behests the knowing few. Grains of salt are required for the trip. As the melodies intertwine they exemplify the carefully thought-out compositional and thematic coherence. On Delirious they shine, and chord sequences are akin to Acid Test tripster gurus.


By Pride before a Fall the band are ready to stretch out and favour more open-ended exploration . The organic nature of Laurel Canyon almost renders the tune a quaint period piece, but ambience and continuing stimulation between the band members evidences that after all these years and some wrong turns and stumbles, The Church are still heading somewhere. 



Cryptic Rock -

Many listeners who are familiar with The Church, especially because of 1988’s hazy-sounding, chart-topping ballad “Under the Milky Way,” might think that the new Further/Deeper, released February 3rd, 2015 in North America, was a comeback album for the Australian band. While this might be seen as partially true, for its predecessor, Untitled #23, five years younger, The Church never really went on a long hiatus. In fact, the group that was formed in Sydney, Australia in 1980 may be regarded as one of the most enduring and prolific pioneers of the now acknowledged New Wave genre. In a span of thirty-four years, The Church has released twenty-five full-length albums – from 1981’s Of Skins and Heart on through Further/Deeper—and a slew of EPs, compilations, side projects, and collaborative works by individual members. This expansive discography boasted of countless memorable songs such as “The Unguarded Moment,” “Almost With You,” “No Explanation,” “Already Yesterday,” “Tantalized,” “Spark,” “Reptile,” and “Metropolis.”


The common distinctive characteristics of the music of The Church are the Psychedelic Rock style of the guitars—swirling, flanger and reverb-drenched, which harked to the Syd Barrett–era Pink Floyd; the bright Jangle Pop guitar interplays and minimal orchestration rooted in the ’60s Folk Rock of bands such as The Byrds and Love; and the unhurried, almost unintelligible, buried-in-the-mix low-register timber of the vocals. For all these, The Church may be easily cited as one of the sowers of the seeds of what came to be known as Shoegaze and Dream Pop—especially the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Catherine Wheel, and Cranes.Further/Deeper is another magical box of mixed birds in the catalogue of The Church, which currently consists of longtime bandleader Steve Kilbey (lead singer-songwriter/bass), Tim Powles (drums), Peter Koppes (guitar), and Powerfinger’s Ian Haug (guitar) joining the fold. While the new album has traces of the band’s jangly-guitar trademark and Pop sensibilities in some of its songs, much of the music delves in the now familiar territory of whirling and fuzzy psychedelic guitars, simple and steady bass lines, laid-back drumbeats, minimal keyboards, as well as the distinctive voice of founding member Kilbey. Standout songs from this twelve-track album are “Vanishing Man,” the Bowie-esque opener that is highlighted by an interplay of piano melodies and mildly distorted guitars; “Delirious,” which is altogether relaxing and driving in equal measures; “Pride Before A Fall,” a slow burner with shimmering guitars and head-spinning mood balanced by the soothing drone of the vocals; and the piano-led “Old Coast Road,” which might remind anyone familiar with Human Radio of this American band’s song “Me and Elvis.” Notably, “Love Philtre” featured Frank Kearns of the Irish New Wave band Cactus World News on six-string bass. 

Finally, “Miami,” the longest and the last track in the album, is a fitting closer. It will remind a keen-eared fan of “Is This Where You Live?,” which is also the longest song from the band’s debut album.What a symbolic completion of a sonic circle in the music of The Church.


For those who think The Church ever went away, should refresh themselves on this band’s captivating sound. Further/Deeper is more a well-crafted new venture for this musically imaginative band. Moody, dark at times, but most of all a lush soundscape of Rock, Further/Deeper is a fitting new studio record for these talented Aussies.

 CrypticRock gives Further/Deeper 4 out of 5 stars.

Red Dirt Report - 4.5 stars -

Who needs church when you can put on your old-school headphones, drop a needle on the record and have the actual CHURCH blissfully wash over you?


It’s been nearly 27 years since “Under the Milky Way” was released and, essentially, became an anthem of sorts in the Southern Hemisphere.


These Aussies, led by singer/bassist/mage Steve Kilbey got their start in Canberra many moons ago (which is the Australian capital city my great-great uncle Walter Burley Griffin designed in the early 20th century – and who was partially influenced in his architectural creativity by anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner – a man I synchromystically happened to be reading about as I was on my third listening of Further/Deeper) and have kept their loyal listeners enraptured with every release, regardless of the inner-band turmoil that may or may not be happening at any particular moment.


When the band comes together, this time with Kilbey, guitarist Peter Koppes, drummer Tim Powles and new lead guitarist Ian Haug (formerly of Powderfinger and who replaces longtime axe-man Marty Willson-Piper) they seem refocused.


In fact, Haug’s guitar playing, while not altogether different from that of Willson-Piper, is given plenty of front-and-center positioning all across Further/Deeper, comfortably positioned next to the complimentary playing by Koppes.


This, their first outing since 2009’s Untitled #23, spans 12-plus songs (some bonus tracks on vinyl), starting with the strangely familiar and distinctly moody “Vanishing Man” to the epic closer “Miami,” with the Starfish-esque lines “I should’ve stayed my hand / I should’ve stayed in Miami, with the seagulls and sand / But the devil is doubt and I’m out on the street / Walking about, talking so sweet.”


In between, we get the accessible, psychedelic pop number “Pride Before a Fall,” the 70’s-folk-pop-meets-well-The-Church “Laurel Canyon” which has some ear-pleasing instrumentation and alliterative lyrics from Kilbey.


Back to Ian Haug. Again, having followed the band since their Starfish and Gold Afternoon Fix days and through the Magician Among the Spirits/Hologram of Baal era, I kept looking for something that may have been missing, musically speaking. A new song like “Lightning White” is reminiscent of what the band was putting out in that late 1990’s era.


And yes, Willson-Piper is a phenomenal and very melodic player. If anything, Haug takes that familiar style and ups it a tick or two with a touch more muscle. Resultingly, Kilbey’s bass lines and Powles’ timekeeping seem that much more in sync. And Koppes, as I noted before, is quite comfortable in this affirming mixture.


“Let Us Go” is an example of Haug’s technical abilities. The playing – even backwards – is flawless. And works well against Kilbey’s lines: “If you touch us we disappear / If you’re waiting we’re never here / Oh, let it grow” …


Get the vinyl if you can, if only for jangle-pop/psych numbers like  the crisp “The Girl is Buoyant” or the appealing “Marine Drive” which has a touch of The Beatles’ “Sun King” swirling in the wah-wah-friendly mix. Again, Haug – a longtime fan of the band before joining officially – is having a blast here. And as a longtime fan myself, I’m more than pleased with Further/Deeper.

Smells Like Infinite Sadness -

The Church ‘Further/Deeper’ Review: Veteran Australian alt-rockers sound refreshed and vibrant, 34 years into their career. 



Fans of  The Church have been on a rollercoaster ride the past few years. In 2012, frontman Steve Kilbey threatened to pull the plug due to frustration with their record label.


But last year, the crisis seemed averted when the band announced working on a new album. But this proved bittersweet, as longtime guitarist Marty Willson-Piper would not be joining them.


Into this intimidating fray stepped Ian Haug, former guitarist for Aussie rock band Powderfinger. And now, the band’s new album Further/Deeper is upon us. After such anticipation what are we to make of this new incarnation?


The Church are a band that truly rewards repeat listening: their intricate web of layered guitars, thrumming bass, and Kilbey’s silken-croon is a rich meal that takes time to digest. But as those details come into focus, the full power of the song craft becomes clear.


And once Further/Deeper sinks in, it makes a potent argument that The Church are still going strong, and that Haug’s energy and enthusiasm has rubbed off on the band.


Kickoff track Vanishing Man’s wash of guitars and mysterious vibe gets the blood running, continuing their tradition of  moody album openers. Follow-up track Delirious straddles the line between optimism and unease, with Kilbey at his most emotively plaintive.


First single Pride Before A Fall is rich with dream-pop atmosphere. The band are in many ways progenitors of that sound, but it feels more pronounced here: gauzy, dreamy, and tranquil, with Kilbey pushing his vocal register into an ethereal, fragile falsetto.




This foggy haze continues on the ambling Toy Head, and the swirly, disorienting Volkano.


The band’s twin-guitar alchemy has always been unique. Not content to have one player rip leads, and the other stick to rhythm, the band’s interweaving guitar harmonies make one wonder where one player ends and the other begins.


So it’s a credit to Haug’s work that he integrates seamlessly with veteran guitarist Peter Koppes, maintaining that delicate dance that defined the Willson-Piper/Koppes era, while giving it a new flavor.


Take note of the lazy-sunbeam atmospherics that infiltrate the catchy Laurel Canyon, where shimmering guitar runs collide with lush pastoral chords, while Kilbey waxes poetic with the mix of romance and nostalgia that hallmarks all his finest work.


Love Philtre has a delicate grace, slightly melancholy, with ghostly piano adding a biting angst.


Kilbey’s lyrics remain impressive, his stream of consciousness phrasing adroit and precise. This is especially noteworthy on Miami, the closing track, and the best song on the album: I don’t think I’ve mentioned/Ive met someone else/her compassionate tears, they were like tiny bells…I should’ve stayed my hand, I should’ve stayed in Miami with the seagulls and sand/But the devil is doubt and I’m out on the street. Walking about, talking so sweet.


The band fire on all cylinders here, doing that patented Church dynamic…the push-pull of the bass and guitars, steady clanging percussion from drummer Tim Powles and a heady vibe that feels hallucinogenic and celluloid in nature.


Further/Deeper lives up to its title. It cuts to the core of what makes the band great, and why they still do what they do better than anyone. And that’s a comforting and reassuring thing indeed.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 26 March 2017 )
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