The CHURCH – ” The Hypnogogue “

Posted: May 1, 2023 in MUSIC

Let it first be said that the title track of “The Hypnogogue“, the first new album from The Church in six years, is one of the most breathtaking singles they’ve released in years, a darkly psychedelic six minutes that slowly spirals into a menacing descent. That alone is reason to keep this one on your radar; the Australian neo-psych band have been going for over 40 years, with around a half dozen classic albums and zero bad ones, yet their ability to keep evolving and uncovering new aspects to their sound and approach only serves as a reminder of how vital they remain after four decades.

Reports from the factory floor of The Church’s collective imagination indicate that “The Hypnogogue” is working just as its creator intended. With futuristic software capable of downloading music from dreams, the mythical contraption fuels the widescreen, science-fiction narrative of an ambitious and mesmerizing concept album warning of the pitfalls of a burgeoning symbiotic relationship between a fading artist and artificial intelligence. Among the dystopian casualties is an ill-fated love affair and a soul damaged beyond repair. The road to renewed relevance is fraught with peril.

While true to some extent, rumors of The Church going full-blown prog on “The Hypnogogue” the Aussie stargazers’ sublime 25th album – are exaggerated, although its inky, shapeshifting beauty emerges from a lush gene pool. And yet, it’s still unmistakably The Church, cold as the moon and floating in immersive, celestial pop and slightly warped psychedelia. All of it poured out of the Big Dipper and carried aloft by echoing vocals, head-swimming effects and hypnotic acoustic guitar strum. Such elements grace otherworldly transmissions like “Thorn,” “Aerodrome” and a gently meandering “No Other You.”

Bathed in ghostly, amniotic reverb, “Flickering Lights” sends out an S.O.S. from a hoary, distant past via Morse code of piano falling to the murky ocean floor, while a lapping, watery “Albert Ross” washes ashore and awakens to expansive possibilities. None of them compare, however, to “Ascendance,” with its majestic gravitational pull and drifting elegance, or “C’est La Vie,” a space oddity overflowing with astral hooks, insistent beats and melodic bewilderment. Then again, the affecting and humbled “I Think I Knew” may hit closer to home for many, as it slowly unleashes a cloudburst of rich, intoxicating sound upon drought-stricken lives. It’s time to go back to The Church to find salvation.

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