Aside from their late 80’s hit “Under The Milky Way,” The Church is one of those esoteric bands who are better known for the more popular (and better selling) bands they inspire than for their own albums. But after two decades of creating innovative music, they have forsaken all attempts to please the fickle average music listener and instead work to please themselves.
Their last album, the aptly-named After Everything, Now This, was a new collection of songs that seemed to sum up their entire musical history and position them for future endeavors. With the release of Parallel Universe, listeners receive a double dip of Church goodness in the form of a two CD set. The first disc contains remixes of each song from After Everything, reworked through some kind of gothic ambient filter by
the loving hand of producer/drummer Tim Powles. Although always known for creating textured, neo-psychedelic excursions, the addition of metallic vocals, fat synth sounds and extended samples pushes their music into new territory, further stretching the distended borders of melodic space-pop. The second disc contains six tracks that were recorded during the After Everything sessions but not deemed worthy for the original album, also (mostly) reworked. Of greatest merit are “1st woman on the moon,” an 11-minute “no overdubs” atmospheric jam that fully reveals their talent at creating a tapestry of sounds and “radiant 1934 remix,” a swirling, grinding journey of gurgling guitars juxtaposed with ethereal sweeps and supersonic chirps.
The tracks on this release somewhat defy deep analysis as they tend to cascade over the listener, hypnotically drawing you in with waves of sound that shimmer and float like the waning memory of a dream upon waking. It is lush, intricate, elegant, moody, deliciously melodic and of a mature caliber one can only expect from musical veterans. It is music you simply enjoy for the experience it provides. While some might be inclined to call the music of The Church arrogant, my overly sensitive anti-pompous radar has yet to pick up such snobbish vibes. Self-indulgent, yes, but after putting in two decades of effort, The Church has earned the right to make music as they hear it. And the way they hear their brand of shoe-gazer art-rock is nothing short of brilliant.
Originally published in 2003 in WhatzUp