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Church With No Magic



  Thrill Jockey  
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Church With No Magic is, technically, the second release from this Australian trio who used to be called Pivot, but dropped the vowels sometime in the last 2 years in an Australian "vowels for Central Asia" campaign. That i and o have been put to good, charitable use in Kyrgyzstan or someplace like that. How nice of them.

PVT make electronic psychedelic music with vocals, music that is a strange combination of rave, IDM, shoegaze, and synthpop. I think that, in a sense, they are the logical successors to Future Sound of London, a band i loved in the 1990s. Well, FSOL are long gone (even though the members still make music their brains have been destroyed by drugs, so it's nowhere near the same), and PVT are similar enough for my tastes. This music seems very futuristic to me, the pop music of a world yet to come. Melodies and rhythms strive to seem primitive, almost tribal, while at the same time being decisively electronic.

The record starts off with Community, in which a deep synth beat (it reminds me of the beat in Inca Steppa off of the most recent Juno Reactor album) wavers frantically alongside some and ambient, wordless singing. This is a lovely start to the record, and as it grows and progresses is merges into Light Up Bright Fires, where and the synth line is paired with a steady drum line and full vocals. This is an ultramodern pop tune for a society that has absorbed what went on in electronica in the 1990s.

On Church With No Magic, Richard Pike’s vocals are different, vaguely like Jim Morrison, or maybe Mark Burgess on the first Chameleons record, only heavily echoed. The percussion here is scattered and primal, almost something that High Places might do if they played with a bass drum.

Crimson Swan continues the same general trend, with echoed voice, synths, and clipped beats. To this they add a guitar, which grinds away for the first half of the song before soaring arpeggios dominate the middle of the song. The guitar really works with the rest of the PVT sonic pallet.

The next song, Window, is insanely catchy, why not? A vocal note is looped to form a simple rhythm, and over this more vocals are echoed and cut and pasted, while drums go like crazy and synths syncopate. It is a crazy mess of a song, and i just cannot help but bounce my head along with it. Wonderful.

On The Quick Mile Richard Pike does his best to sound like Thom Yorke amid skittering drum samples and droning synths. Not the best track on the record. However, the next tune is masterful. It is called Waves & Radiation and features a knocking beat and some droning synths a la early Vangelis that build a slow, nervous tension. It is like a Boards of Canada tune covered by The Fire Show, seemingly light and happy, yet with a firm layer of distress underneath. I think it is the incessant knocking that makes it so nervous. Whatever. Good stuff.

Circle Of Friends features a looped vocal rhythm similar to Window, but here coupled with echoed guitar seemingly sampled from an early Landing record. It actually is not the best combination here. Timeless is where Pike really cuts lose, singing like Jimmy Sommerville in early Bronski Beat, or if you need a more contemporary analogy, Coldplay. Finally, things wrap up with Only The Wind Can Hear You/ I like the bass riff here, a kind of scattered, occasional thunking amongst the clattering percussion and Blade Runner synth drones, but it is a nice accent.

Overall, i am impressed. This is good stuff, very enjoyable. And of course, it is so admirable that they selflessly gave their vowels to those poor people in Central Asia....

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