Thursday, October 12, 2006

Church Instrumentals

Purveyors of melancholy, Gothic-tinged neo-psychedelia and perennial champions of the Rickenbacker 12-string, The Church remains a cryptic, cabalistic band to the majority of contemporary chart watchers. Shunned by the general record-buying public for their wilfully esoteric Goth-rock conceptions; the abstruse, bordering-on-overbearing soundscapes; and frontman Steve Kilbey's sometimes droll, but mostly maddeningly nebulous wordplay.

However, Church devotees are aplenty all over the world, and these are the same faithful disciples who have stuck with the band through thick and thin, conscientiously worshipping abstract, ambiguous compositions about reincarnated extraterrestrials in Ancient Persia, willowy, white-cloaked femme fatales called Anna Miranda, and feeling out of sync with the rest of the universe because you're trapped in the middle of an "emerging random memory in flux".

While most Church followers are on instantly familial terms with certified standards like "Under the Milky Way", "Myrrh" and "Ripple", there is a less unexplored side to the band that merits at least some cursory review. Like Pink Floyd, one of their forerunners and inspirational sources, The Church has also produced a number of instrumentals that allowed them to work with arrangements otherwise unfeasible to fit onto the relatively conventional structures of their vocal tracks:

The Church's first commercially successful work, 1986's appropriately titled "Heyday", threw up this carefully considered, Great Plains Native American-influenced mood piece, garnished with some gentle tribal rhythmic cadences and a cinematic string backdrop.

FILM (Priest = Aura, 1992)
Coming from the band's undisputed 1992 magnum opus, "Film" is a sweeping, guitar-driven epic that makes for a fantastic ending theme to a grand-scale historical narrative by Kurosawa. The guitar overdubs here are terrifically evocative, and the backing synth drones give new meaning to the word "atmospheric".

EASTERN (Sometime Anywhere, 1994)
An odd little number that relies on piercing Arabesque tonalities and swooning Pannonia-apprised violin swirls, the otherwise lazily titled "Eastern" signals the band's initial, mostly successful foray into Middle Eastern-influenced worldbeat.

ROMANY CARAVAN (Magician Among the Spirits, 1996)
Guest violinist Linda Neil is given her chance to shine on this quirky, animated, Eastern European-informed tune, which is further enlivened by some quick-stepping percussion work and unconventional classical-guitar tunings.

AFTER IMAGE (Magician Among the Spirits, 1996)
A tranquil-sounding but evocatively melancholy solo-piano ballad that provided a good ending to the band's 1996 investigation of Kraut-rock, "After Image" possesses a palpable, ghostly ambience that makes for a perfect soundtrack to a late-night séance in late-era Victorian London. The sampled, filtered female sighs enhance the sense of despondency and defeatism.

BETWEEN MIRAGES (El Momento Descuidado, 2004)
A surprisingly relaxed, uncomplicated coda comprising calmly collected piano arpeggios, measured classical-guitar chords, and empathic acoustic-bass undertows that ends the band's 2004 unplugged effort "El Momento Descuidado" on a vaguely optimistic note.


Blogger eek said...

Ahhh, Film is one of my favourite songs. Love that song.

9:34 PM  

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