The Church – The Hypnogogue

Ambitious ‘concept records’ have a poor reputation, thanks to seventies prog-rock navel-gazing excess, but actually can work really well....
The Church : The Hypnogogue
7.7 Communicating Vessels
2023 
The Church : The Hypnogogue

Ambitious ‘concept records’ have a poor reputation, thanks to seventies prog-rock navel-gazing excess, but actually can work really well. Hüsker Dü had one in the seminal Zen Arcade, Sufjan Stevens had two about U.S. states, and Coheed & Cambria made a whole career out of them. The wise move is to not stick tightly to any concept, but let it guide musical skill – and you have to have the skill to pull it off, like Australia’s The Church with The Hypnogogue.

Loosely based around the story of a fading rock star trying to access a machine that can pull music out of people’s dreams, that’s seen clearest in the title track and its excellent video (QRO review), a haunting retro-futuristic dream journey. Yes, it’s all a little Philip K. Dick, but the music leans towards the echo glows of the one-and-only David Bowie in songs such as “C’est La Vie”, “No Other You”, and “Succulent”. The album as a whole – and it does feel like a whole – goes from the reaching atmosphere open of “Ascendence” to the grander summing up finish of closer “Second Bridge”.

Yes, The Hypnogogue has that ‘long journey in the mind’ which concept records usually have, a vision detailed at length (over an hour) that you might not totally, or even mostly, get. But like the dreams of the artist, it is still a compelling one.

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