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Glide magazine reviews MWLDI Print E-mail
Friday, 06 October 2017


The portentous tone of the title of the Church’s Man Woman Life Death Infinity is more than a little fitting and not just because it is the Australian band’s twenty-sixth studio album. With Ian Haug now in tow since 2013 to wield guitars in place of departed founding member Marty Wilson-Piper, the group soldiers on, maintaining their recognizable, if not wholly original style, of writing, playing and recording.

It’s the same uninterrupted prolific creative impetus the Church retained when Tim Powles joined the group just over twenty-years ago, fulfilling multiple roles as drummer and producer. The cohesion of the current lineup is as firm as the sound is deep, right from the spacey intro of “Another Century” into the swirl of voices layered in between acoustic and electric guitars.

The beauty of the multiple textures lies in how they can so amply fill a room or headphones with equal depth. As on “Submarine,” Powles’ drum work is the heartbeat of the band, his embellishments accentuating the massive pulse he supplies (not unlike the way Nick Mason works within Pink Floyd). Yet the man who took original drummer Richard Ploog’s place in the Church propels the band forward through the cryptically-titled “For King Knife,”

As his flourishes interweave with those from the instruments of Haug and Peter Koppes, something of an Alice in Wonderland ambiance continues to permeate the album via “Before the Deluge.” But guitars and voices, especially bassist Steve Kilbey’s, become increasingly prominent with each successive cut here, so that “I Don’t Know How I Don’t Know Why” sounds less like a random musing than concerted introspection. The feedback that sears from one side of the stereo spectrum to the other only drives that notion home.

So, as with the best work of the Church, such as the twenty-five-year-old Priest=Aura, the all-enveloping rapture the foursome conjures up always remains grounded in some semblance of realism; in 2017, where else would something so ominous as “Something Out There Is Wrong”  come from? Still, much of the force of gravity within Man Woman Life Death Infinity arises from the comparative brevity of the ten tracks: the band’s playing is consistently tight in the roughly three and a half to four and a half minute duration of each.

Then there’s the sequencing of the cuts, so astute that, just when the album calls for a novel sound to ward off  monotony, there’s the clear ring of piano notes throughout “A Face in a Film.” And while this current work of the Church doesn’t exactly end with finality, that’s in keeping with the open-ended progression of this band over the course of its history. The conclusion of “Dark Waltz” leaves a listener with a palpable sense of suspense, the ideal means to reaffirm the faith of long-time fans while enticing new followers, both groups of which may end up equally eager for the follow-up to Man Woman Life Death Infinity.

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