The Church

Hologram of Baal

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After several unsettled years, the Church finally shook off their doldrums, put their differences aside, and took to the road for a short tour of Australia, to be met with fevered audiences and effusive journalists. In between shows, the group began enthusiastically recording, and the resulting album, Hologram of Baal, proved to be their best in years. This was partially because the set captured the intensity (musical and emotional) of their live shows -- "Louisiana," for example, quivers with quiet energy; but also because of the vibrant soundscapes that the band were then creating in the studio. One of the loveliest of these is "Tranquility"; in contrast, the more abstract "Ricochet" bounces around pop in the most unnerving fashion. "Buffalo" is not an ode to the vanishing bison, but to a lady presumably hailing from that city, yet it still captures the feel of the vast and now sadly empty plains, while a smattering of experimental pieces apparently start around the same place the Velvet Underground left off. Gently rocking blends of mood and music highlight "Anesthesia," while "Another Earth" sounds like the Flamin' Groovies on a cocktail of Prozac and valium. The deliberately blurry production wraps the album in a thick cotton wadding, and heightens the atmospheres and softens any stray jagged edge. Strong melodies and beautiful textures complete this quintessential set.

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