Parallel Universe
by The Church


Australian dark pop unit gives two discs here: the first, 11 remixes of songs off 2002's After Everything Now This; the second, six previously unreleased tracks from the sessions that gave us that record. Important: listen to disc two first. Their unfailing songwriting abilities are again showcased here. Why the song "Espionage" with it's sexy mysteriousness and the beat-driven ballad "Reward" were struck from the original set list is beyond me. Those who think that their career began and ended with the 1988 single "Under the Milky Way" should be fed a generous helping of crow after this release. Catchy, well-written and well-played, these songs will appeal to all of you Peter Murphy fans with their sombre elegance reminiscent of Mr. Murphy's earlier solo efforts. The remixes of disc one vary between a sort of Manchester reworking in their bounciness (think Jesus Jones) to funky trip-hop, and carry on more of the electronic feel that they went with on AENT. Steve Kilbey's vocals are their usual richly delivered mix of Edward Ka-Spel and Peter Murphy. If you already own their last record and couldn't give a toss about hearing old songs redone, buy this one anyways for the new material alone.

Parallel Universe is what the Church would sound like in a different time and place, or maybe it is what they would sound like if they had been founded by Tim Powles, or maybe it is what they would sound like if they had followed a more electronic route from the beginning. It's a re-imagining of After Everything Now This, and strangely enough, or maybe not, that title would have been much more appropriate for Parallel Universe had it not been used already. Parallel Universe is The Church, but not completely but at the same time it's all of The Church and more. Parallel Universe is convergence and divergence in the elements that make The Church. It is an experiment, it's a beginning that includes its own end. It is something that couldn't have happened before, and is something that may not happen again. Parallel Universe really is The Church in a Parallel Universe...

That's exactly, indefinitely and undefinedly what I think it is. It is in keeping with what it is that by not being definite nor defined in explaining it I feel I'm doing it with exactitude.

But that may not make full sense, so here's a more conventional description:

Disc Two (mixture, or //U-M as I like to abbreviate it) is essential, it has songs that were not included in AENT.

Disc One (remixture, //U-R) consists of remixes of the songs in AENT, most of the remixes were made by Tim Powles, these remixes go beyond the Soft Mix of Numbers from the single. Opinions about how good the remixes are very divided. Some hate them, few love them, I really like them, and I think they are worth getting. The correspondence of the titles of some songs in //U-R to those in AENT can be easily recognized, others are more obscure, and the same can be said for the sound of the original songs and the remix versions.

Even if you think you won't like the remixes their rare nature may be enough to give them a chance, I did and I liked it. Even if you are not too attracted by the remix idea //U-M is worth the money, those songs are quite good and some are true gems, that should have been part of AENT if the had not had a different "vibe" to them.

Even further beyond the poetic I started with, into the pragmatic and, maybe but hopefully not, even cynical I will say that Parallel Universe is the way in which Tim Powles was given the chance to merge together his collaboration with The Church and his other collaborations and interests. //U-R is Tim Powles baby, it's Tim reinventing The Church but it may also be a reflection of The Church influencing Tim Powles.

And it's a double CD almost at the price of a single CD, that alone makes it worth getting.

Hmm...interesting idea this. Ignore the review by Swampy; I daresay he didn't get around to listening to the second CD. The first CD, titled "Remixture" is simply an alternate take on the "After Everything Now This" songs, complete with fake audience noise, assorted knob twiddling and the limited trickery given over to remix projects. It does have its moments and will intrigue true Church devotees. It's appeal, however, will not sustain.

The second CD, titled "Mixture", is an altogether different species. Treat it as a separate Church album (the six tracks clock in at nearly 38 minutes in total) because the material is utterly magnificent. Moody and compelling, it has been compiled from studio jams and set pieces from both Sweden and Australia.

It has a soaring richness rarely achieved by The Church since "Priest = Aura" and will draw in and reward the listener time and again. For example, the 11-minute plus epic "1st Woman On The Moon" is so damned hypnotic in it's languid scope that time seems to stand still as the shimmering effects take hold.

"Twin Stars" on the other hand, is a haunting devil of a track, a building, menacing guitar-laden beast, destined to be played with the volume up.

The production is first class and creates a wonderful sonic texture. When I interviewed Marty Willson-Piper in 2003, I actually put to him, "why can't all Church releases sound like this?!"

Go and find yourself a copy - today!

Cheers to all Church fans.

I think the Church are simply one of the best guitar bands ever, but this "remix" is an obscene record company gesture that mocks and ridicules the accomplished "After Everything Now This" album. Unlistenable.