[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
In 1994, The Church said goodbye to their high profile and bid a less than fond adieu to their major label at the time. After ‘Priest = Aura’ failed to vault them back into the public eye, the suits apparently gave up once and for all upon hearing this massive, sprawling album. An album which found the band reduced to Steve Kilbey and Marty Willson-Piper due to the departure of Peter Koppes (he’d return as a full member for 1998’s ‘Hologram of Baal’) and the subsequent aftermath of the mainstream’s unwillingness to allow them anything besides being under that fucking Milky Way. Current drummer Tim Powles first appears here, however, so there’s a definite re-birth going on. It just wasn’t in the way which a lot of fans wanted. Loops? Drum machines? Synthesizers!? Who the hell was this…
The Church, that’s who. ‘Sometime Anywhere’ didn’t skimp on songs or length and if you did like I did and bought it when it came out you got a bonus EP called ‘Somewhere Else’ for nothing. Yes, that’s correct, well before file-sharing and digital media, some bands had the foresight to recognize that it did no harm to reward the faithful with a little taste of complimentary sweetness. And sweet this era was, despite Arista pulling the plug on any kind of tour to promote this record (and then they wondered why it didn’t sell that well) because it was the start of this band’s magnificent second act. An act which was to see them recognized and lauded in ways which no mtv media blitz could have been parlayed into. They stood tall on their own for ‘Sometime Anywhere’ and let the songs do the talking.
Trust me, there was plenty of scoffing to be heard among those who listened at first.
It was not bombastic, nor were there any jangly hook-laden anthems coming from them. These tunes stretched out and breathed deeply of the atmosphere they originated in, no longer were things abbreviated in the name of commerce. I think Marty truly became a fearsome guitarist on here, with Koppes gone he had all the space to play in he could ever want. I’d say he tore it up, to put it mildly. Kilbey delivered incredible depth and a near shamanic sound of his own, particularly with songs such as “My Little Problem”, “Angelica”, “Business Woman” and “Lost My Touch”. He and Marty even alternated lead vocals on the main single “Two Places At Once”. I have seen them four times but only heard this one once, as a matter of fact any of the tracks from this album along with 1996’s ‘Magician Among The Spirits” continually get passed over.
Playing ‘Sometime Anywhere’ led to people leaving the room. No one wanted to hear The Church if they didn’t deliver the expected sound, I think we all knew after the 80s exactly what a lot of ears were hankering for. This outing wasn’t for them, but it was for those of us who’d heard the dabbling throughout the years on songs such as “Field of Mars” or “Disappointment”. Rock music was supposed to have an immediacy to it, right? This kind of experimentation wasn’t allowed and I could literally hear many minds snapping shut by the time I’d only gotten halfway through playing Steve and Marty’s work. Too mellow, too loosely constructed, no edge, no bite. More like no clue on your part, I’d often say.
This was and remains their strangest hour. It didn’t win them any rosy press then, and aside from myself and a few others around the internet, it’s still going to be routinely ignored. So many just refused to make the jump with them into more challenging areas and for that they are to be pitied because they don’t get what this band are about. Our intrepid duo made this one for themselves and no one cared, so what. We like it, that’s all that matters seemed to be the ethos this time out. They’d push even further with the next one and alienate what few were still paying attention even more but there were those who never let go and even now with Marty out of the band I have no doubts about The Church.
Everyone were just too busy following the antics of a straggly, strung out “movement” in Seattle to bother noticing the splendid craftsmanship which thanks to Arista was in just about every record store around. Even now, I see this gem sitting in the used bin far far too often and I know precisely how it got there: the owner had no patience. All good works of art demand a bit of give and take from their audience, no one was ready for this kind of request though. You literally got what you gave when you put it on and if you didn’t go all the way, the only feeling you’d get would be one of exasperation. But if you trusted them with your time and believed in what they were doing, your faith would be rewarded ten fold.
An intricately composed collection that was a testament to the will this band had to carry on, in spite of all the setbacks and record industry chicanery:
They weren’t going anywhere.
The Church – Sometime Anywhere
Much under rated album summed up brilliantly. Although I must admit I struggled with Magician.
Magician is an arid, desolate place. I suspect it’s origins come from the scenery on the cover of Priest = Aura. Has an appeal all it’s own, though. I’m grateful they made it.