Author: Bruce Jenkins  Date Posted:22 March 2024 


Sleep is my lover now, my forgetting, my opiate, my oblivion.1

A sci-fi concept album of thirteen tracks spread across a double album, The Church’s 2023 release is, simply put, a majestic and engrossing epic. Is it reality? A dystopian future? A warning? Only the brave or the foolhardy would stake a claim, but perhaps the title is a hint: The Hypnogogue. Hypnogogia is the state immediately before falling asleep, the penumbra of life and the little death. Dream states have long fascinated artists, and Steve Kilbey and his associates are no exceptions.

Innocent sleep,

Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care

The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath

Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course

Chief nourisher in life’s feast.2

Certainly the album is a sumptuous meal, full of mood and atmosphere. Inside the gatefold sleeve is a précis of the story; a menu if you will. The titular apparatus, we are told, was "a controversial machine/process/event which pulled raw music out of dreamers heads". Digesting the journey we learn a little more… but not much.

The Hypnogogue opens with a cinematic fade-in, a curtain withdrawn, a door opening. The character, the listener, both waiting to pass under sleep’s dark and silent gate.The sound is dense, layered, a little mysterious. The pace lifts for the second song, "C’est La Vie", though like much of the music of The Church, it is still mid-paced. There is a bounce here, Ash Naylor’s guitars adding sparkle and vibrancy.

"Aerodrome" has more of those shimmering, chiming guitars that have always been a speciality of The Church. Its lyric is one of yearning; to be somewhere else. By the sea? Well, that is a start. But the narrator laments their loneliness. It is an evocative, rolling tune, followed by a forward-looking song, "These Coming Days", that is layered by a patina of regret. You can smell the future, we’re told, and it certainly isn’t the scent of roses. The flying and the fallen / finding yourself in your enemy’s heart.

Much of the album seems to see-saw between past, present and an uncertain future. The Hypnogogue, we are told in the cover notes, is "part vegetal and part mineral. And it’s a lot of other things too." The song with this text intro is "Succulent", all woozy ambience and down beat psychedelia. Voice from a gloomy future / Voice from a gloomy past. Do androids dream of electric sheep?4

Penultimate track "Antarctica" seems to contain a veiled environmental message and has a pensive doomed ambience that evokes Pink Floyd at their alienated best. Leaving space in the music lets the guitars shine and somehow pulls us into this strange, convoluted narrative. Creating space in your head will invite you to surf The Church’s neo-psychedelic sea while enjoying that most oceanic of concepts: something that is always different yet always the same. And perhaps in that state, the answer will come to you at last. Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work / And helps make something of the world.5



Title: William Shakespeare, Hamlet  [c. 1600]

  1. Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife  [2003]
  2. William Shakespeare, Macbeth  [1623]
  3. Jackson Browne, Sleep’s Dark And Silent Gate  [1977]
  4. Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?  [1968]
  5. Heraclitus, Fragments [c. 500 B.C.]


Eros Zeta & The Perfumed Guitars, a sequel to The Hypnogogue, will be released in April 2024. The story continues…

© Bruce Jenkins-March2024

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