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The Church

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The Church Seance album cover
3.75 | 28 ratings | 5 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1983

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fly (2:12)
2. One Day (4:36)
3. Electric (6:03)
4. It's No Reason (5:54)
5. Travel By Thought (4:35)
6. Disappear? (5:46)
7. Electric Lash (4:25)
8. Now I Wonder Why (5:40)
9. Dropping Names (2:57)
10. It Doesn't Change (5:52)

Total Time: 46:00

Bonus tracks on 2010 remaster:
11. Someone Special (4:10)
12. Autumn Soon (4:28)

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Kilbey / lead vocals, bass, keyboards, string arrangements
- Peter Koppes / lead guitar, Hammond
- Marty Willson-Piper / guitars, vocals
- Richard Ploog / drums, bongos, tambourine

- Michelle Parker / backing vocals (4)
- Russell Kilbey / harmonica (8)

Releases information

Artwork: Kim Sandeman (photo)

LP Parlophone ‎- PCSO-7590 (1983, Australia)

CD Arista ‎- ARCD-8565 (1988, US) Remastered by Bill Inglot, Ken Perry
CD EMI ‎- 5099991817327 (2010, Australia) Remastered by Don Bartley with 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy THE CHURCH Seance Music

THE CHURCH Seance ratings distribution

(28 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

THE CHURCH Seance reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by maani
5 stars [Third in a series] There are occasional (some might say rare) times when the confluence in a band is so fortuitous that it creates a kind of gestalt, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Although not "progressive" in the strictest sense, Seance is one of those rare confluences. (And there would not be another such gestalt for The Church until Preist=Aura, which launched them into truly progressive rock.)

From the opening notes of "Fly," you can tell that The Church had become a far more confident band, and was developing a more "textured" and (even if not fully developed yet) progressive sound: the keyboard in the chorus is both strong and perfect, the strings (a new element) are used tastefully and appropriately, and the use of percussion instead of drums signals a very different approach to writing and arrangement. (As an aside, "Fly" may be the most perfect 2-minute song in progressive rock.) "Fly" leads directly into "One Day" with a strong, Beatle-esque guitar, a slightly syncopated backbeat, and Kilbey's first virtually monotone delivery, which not only works effectively, but is actually quite compelling. (Peter Koppes also takes a neat solo.) "Electric" opens with a nice rhythm guitar/drum pattern again, and a very interesting lead guitar part. The keyboard and general arrangement of the chorus are lush with progressive sensibilities. "It's No Reason" is the first Church song to open with and feature keyboards, and the chorus is a beautiful, melancholy mix of acoustic guitar, keyboards, and a subtle string arrangement, giving it an almost Moody Blues-ish quality. "Travel By Thought" is a mish-mash of progressive elements, and seems more like an "experiment" than a cohesive idea (it also sounds like a "nod" to XTC's "Travels in Nihilon," which was released the year before and has a very similar drum figure and general arrangment). "Disappear" makes effective use of acoustic guitar, a simple syncopated beat (they were starting to get really good at this - and would get even better in the future), and Harrison-esque lead fills. "Electric Lash" finds the band having some fun with its former approach (even slyly bringing in the guitar figure from "Sisters"), although with a strange snare effect and a nice keyboard figure. "Now I Wonder Why" is underpinned by a wonderful McCartney-esque bass figure (is there a pattern developing here?...), which at times follows the vocal. The keyboards at the bridge add a nice touch. "Dropping Names" is an interesting amalgam of the band's former and current approaches: a solid rock beat and jangly guitars, mixed with subtle keyboards, sound effects, textures, etc. "It Doesn't Change" closes the album with a haunting, quasi-paranoid (read "Floydian"), minimalist arrangement of arpeggiated guitar, drums, solid bass, and increasingly present keyboards - an approach that would eventually become part of their "signature" sound.

Overall, "Seance" is the band's first "progressive" album, in as much as they were clearly applying their growing progressive sensibilities in a conscious manner. And given the "basic rock" approach of the majority of their prior material, "Seance" is a truly unexpected and wonderful offering. As importantly, it was the beginning of the first of three short "periods" that the band would go through, all of which were initiated by breakthrough albums. "Seance" was to The Church's "growth" as "Foxtrot" was to Genesis, "Time and A Word" was to Yes, and "Atom Heart Mother" was to Pink Floyd - all of those albums were great, but presaged even greater things to come.

Review by hdfisch
3 stars 20 years ago when I had my "Indie phase" I liked to listen to this band together with their contemporaries like U 2, The Pretenders, The Stranglers, The Cure and so one. But in fact that was all Indie Rock for me and they never stood out of the others in my view. That's why I never concentrated on them actually; at that time I knew only their first two albums and sometime in the 90's I bought Gold Afternoon Fix which was that much disappointing for me that I gave them up somehow and lost interest. Until recently when I had some "nostalgic" moment and digged out the old CHURCH records (to remember "My God I was still bloody young at that time") this was the moment when I listened to the album Seance for the first time (21 years after its release). But I have to say I have not been impressed very much by it, sure their sound changed, became much more textured by using lush keyboard strings alongside the guitars. Maybe I would have been fascinated by it at that time but in fact I concentrated more on MARILLION in the 80's whose music can't be compared to this one since the one of CHURCH is in fact not intricate at all and sounds to my ears (that have listen already quite a lot of different stuff) more like some better atmospheric Indie Rock songs. Yes the lyrics are surely quite deep, but the main problem I have with this record are in fact the very weak drums that sound sometimes even like a drum machine. But anyway the rhythm section in this kind of music using most of the time the same simple rhythms is the reason for that it fails to catch my attraction.

For sure Fly, Disappear? or Electric Lash are very fine songs and in the poor 80's music scene THE CHURCH have been one of the few better bands but listening to it nowadays I've got to say they don't give me much and there are enough far more interesting bands at least for my taste. I will not try to describe each track in detail because for sure I could not do it half as good as my co-reviewer mainly for the reason it's not the type of music I'm much interested in.

So as a SUMMARY IMHO I can't see (or hear) any reason to compare this album to ones like Foxtrot or Time and a word and to call it a "masterpiece in progresssive rock" because simply its music is far to little intricate for this comparison. I think it deserves a solid 3 star rating (maybe one half more, but it's not possible) since I don't regard it as an essential one. But this is as usually just a matter of personal taste and favour.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This Australian band doesn't share a lot of reviews on PA; which is kind of normal given the type of music they have offered so far. Their fully new wave oriented music has little to do with progressive music and the very good "New Day" is again anything but prog: fine and hectic pop, upbeat and very optimistic. A very good song indeed which relates to their previous efforts by all means.

Most songs featured here are seriously new wave oriented even if keys are more on the front line than before. A song as "It's No Reason" holds all the elements of the early eighties: catchy, popish, melodic. Some sort of tranquil OMD or so. But I like it.

Some tribal beats for "Travel By Thought" could remind of "Adam & The Ants" but the whole sounds more as the great "Echo & The Bunnymen". Somewhat hectic and not structured shall I say. The weakest song from this work as far as I'm concerned.

Most of this album is a fine remembering of some of the good music played during the early eighties (which was not too frequent). I am quite nostalgic of this period (but obviously not for prog reasons). It was a fun period, concerts were great and full of atmosphere. But far away from prog.

To be truly honest, I have to admit that after "Electric Lash", this album sounds somewhat repetitive and for the very first time in their career a bit dull as well ("Now I Wonder Why"). If you would except the very good instrumental closing part "It Doesn't Change" is quite mellow and inexpressive.

Unlike other fellow reviewers, I don't believe that this one is their best effort so far; on the contrary: it seems to me that there is a bit of breathlessness figured on "Seance". Still, it is a good album that deserves the three stars rating.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Nailing the classic 1980s indie guitar rock jangle pop sound well before much of the rest of the scene cohered around this sort of material, the Church's Seance spices up its sound with hints of gothic influences scattered here and there. The production sound is a bit more classically "1980s" than the more timeless sound of some of their releases,, with the gated drum sound being laid on especially thick, but whilst this does mean it is distinctively a product of its era I think the material is strong enough that it doesn't suffer too much for this. Not the pinnacle of their output - I think Heyday pips it - but very good nonetheless.

Latest members reviews

4 stars "SeancÚ" was the first serious approach to find the true identity of this band after two albums that were not very much related with the sound we are used to. And for a first approach, the result was pretty much convincing, although we should remember that we find the band at a quite early sta ... (read more)

Report this review (#54392) | Posted by shyman | Wednesday, November 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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