the church - el momento descuidado

"The way to make these songs work was to treat them almost casually," says Steve Kilbey. "The record was made in two or three days, virtually live. The vocals were done in one or two takes. The trick was to treat them all like brand new songs. They were all fresh, they all had equal status."

Looking back has never been the Church's style. Their first hit, The Unguarded Moment, has been a radio staple for 23 years but the band responsible stopped playing it long ago, to pursue new horizons with a unique determination that continues to challenge and inspire a worldwide audience.

The long neglected title makes a stunning return on El Momento Descuidado, a spontaneous acoustic disc that reinvents tunes spanning the band's extraordinary journey. Spiked with five exceptional new tracks, it plays more like an entirely fresh Church album than anything resembling nostalgia.

"Metropolis and Unguarded Moment sound like music you'd hear coming from a New Jersey pier on a hot summer night," Kilbey observes. Subtle structural and atmospheric twists also colour their biggest hit, Under the Milky Way.

Almost With You retains its original sea-breeze jangle, but with an Eno-esque vibes solo from drummer Tim Powles, one of many multi-instrumental embellishments that give each song previously unimagined dimensions.

"Just doing The Church Unplugged would have been pointless for us," says Kilbey. "We wanted to really feel the songs, reinterpret them. We wanted to free them, open them up, strip back some of the artifice. We found there were some other songs lurking in there, behind the stiff face of the originals."

Of the more recent songs, Marty Willson-Piper's Chromium is a dazzling rediscovery. His concert perennial Tristesse is also transformed, sounding more like a lost gem from Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks.

Peter Koppes' expanded palette is another revelation. From piano and harmonica to mandolin, he brings new textures to Milky Way and New Season, and an evocative melancholy to one of the outstanding new songs, All I Know.

From the Midsummer Night's Dream-weaving of November to the rolling country feel of Cows Come Home to the cinematic shimmer of Between Mirages, the new songs mark further progress in one of the most vibrant careers at the enquiring edge of rock.

"It's not like we just played the old electric parts on acoustic guitars," says Kilbey. "That could never work for us. We really put some love into this."