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The Church - Magician Among The Spirits CD (album) cover


The Church


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3.68 | 30 ratings

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4 stars Little albums of the extensive back catalogue of the Australian band The Church can really please me but this one does ! Like so many albums of the Church the voice of Steve Kilby is sounding rather dry. Usually the band plays rather standard eighties guitar rock/wave but here there's a more challenging musical approach. "Magic among the spirit" has a darker, more laid back and mysterious atmosphere which includes exotic elements. As always, you can enjoy the gorgeous guitar licks of Marty Wilson Piper . His distinctive way of handling the guitar is a trademark of this band and a reason to check out some of their material.

On the strong opening track "welcome" the psychedelic guitar licks remind me of the sounds that whales produce to communicate with one another. This sober song has a strange, yet original, rhythmic feel. The hypnotic rhythms in "Lady boy" is very similar minus the distorted guitar and Kelby who reaches the lowest level of his vocal abilities. Just like on other Church releases the vocal melodies on this album are never spectacular yet they are able to fascinate me from start to finish. I can imagine these vocals will be too monotonous for many when hearing them first but my advice is : keep listening. In "man" the monotone melody is broadened by a psychedelic guitar line which reminds me of David Gimour. The moody keyboard and backing vocals completes the Floydian image. Truly wonderful ! "Won't let you sleep" is another track that gains power by its magnificent arrangement. The musical formula for most of the tracks is basically the same. Wilson Piper weaves a bed of delicate guitar chords and melodies and Kilby sings on top of that. Sometimes the source of difference is the mixing of the instruments. Here, the drum parts are complex, throughout the album the drum parts are astonishing. On a tracks like "Sads" the bands wave roots are present more substantially. Tru to its title, "grandiose" is a marvellous instrumental track where the lovely guitar lines are joined by a violin. This wouldn't misstand on a prog album like "Dark side of the moon". In every song you can track down more influences from other musical styles. On "Why don't you love me", the elements from folk and classical music are more apparent in the arrangements. There's definitely the impression the sound of this band is getting more enriched towards the end of the disc. The track listing must have been sorted out carefully as each next song builds upon the atmosphere of the previous one. This makes this album suitable for listening from start to finish instead of selecting separate tracks.

On "Could be anyone" you have the impression of a medicine man is performing his rites due to the hypnotic African percussion and human cries in the back. The distorted guitar chords and atmospheric keyboards adds weird mystery. Never before have I experienced a more fascinating landscape in a Church record. " Further adventures." is exploring the hypnotic atmosphere further on. Here the use of the keyboards is increasing thus focussing more on the religious issues. In "Romany Caravan" the eastern influences are more at the front.

Conclusion : Although not suited to be listened at every single day, I would like to recommend this adventurous album very much. Mostly this is no progressive rock like we know it. Basically you'll find rock songs in here that got improved by exciting arrangements. Especially if you can appreciate moody atmospheres, pop leanings and some ethnic influences, this album is worth of checking out. Though the musicianship is excellent on this album, it's provided rather in a subtle way than in virtuous outings possibly with the exception of the magnificent guitar solo's. When hearing the album for the first time some will find this rather monotonous but after repeated listens you'll soon discover the song writing is really top notch. On this album it's obvious the band explores some of their Australian roots amongst other influences. This album breaths mystery.

Fishy | 4/5 |


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