May. 25th, 2014

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Released in 2003, seven years after Magician Among The Spirits, Forget Yourself is the last album by The Church currently residing in my music collection. Obviously I have some major gaps in my collection when it comes to The Church's studio output. Forget Yourself is the band's thirteenth studio album, and there are three LPs between it and Magician. Since then, the band released seven more albums, for a grand total of 20 studio records overall – a daunting prospect for anyone new to the group trying to penetrate their catalogue.

I don't remember exactly when or where I got this album. It wasn't long after I'd moved to Pittsburgh and I think I was at some big box store where I saw the disc sitting on the shelf. Every other detail is blurry, but I do recall thinking, "hmm...new CD by The Church. I've already got Starfish and Gold Afternoon Fix...guess I'll check this one out." That's the last time I can recall purchasing a CD as an impulse buy. It was probably the last time I bought a CD at any sort of chain store too.

I have no particular fond recollections of chain store CD purchases. Even then I knew I was being ripped off. As far as I'm concerned, a CD should never cost more than $10. If some of the prices I've seen at merch tables lately are any indication, I'm a musician with a minority opinion in that regard. Perhaps I'm a sucker who should just be charging more for merch when I play a show.

Forget Yourself took three months to record, and is an album of few overdubs. By the time of its release, The Church had become accustomed to "jamming out" new releases for nearly a decade. The result is something a little less polished, a little more immediate, a little more raw. "Song In Space" was the single from this one, but album opener "Sealine" could have easily taken its place. The two songs go well together – and, indeed, they do as track one and two.

It has been a while since I've given this a listen and playing it again for the first time, "Lay Low" sticks out from the rest of the tracks. The song is like a harder rocking "Terra Nova Cain" without alien abduction subplot. It fits surprisingly well with the more downbeat, shimmery "Maya."

In case you've ever been curious, there are times when I'll stop writing these pieces and just listen to the record as it plays for a while before I resume typing. I generally try to write whatever I'm going to write within the duration of the album it relates to. On occasion (The Jim Carroll Band's Catholic Boy, for example), I've played an album through more than once as I write about it. At 63 minutes, Forget Yourself is pretty generous with the listening/writing time.

That said, I've made it up to "Don't You Fall" (track 10). I like the song, but I can't shake the feeling that I've heard it somewhere else before. Obviously I heard it when I've listened to the album in the past, but I feel like I heard it in a place divorced from that listening experience. The question is...where? It's actually irritating me a bit that I can't remember where else I've heard the song. Was it a TV show? Was it playing at some restaurant or coffee shop that I visited? Did I hear it in the car on a long trip skipping around on the left side of the FM dial? I bet I'll remember five minutes after I close this entry – or perhaps never at all.

In any case, someone looking for The Church to sound as close to "Under The Milky Way" as they will ever come again will find it in "Don't You Fall."

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Sometime in the Spring of 2001, I was sitting in the office at WAIH, thumbing through CMJ Weekly when I spotted a review for Claire Voyant's Time and the Maiden. The Cocteau Twins and 4AD Records in general were name-dropped and I gave the Metropolis Records college radio promotions department a call to ask for a copy to be sent.

As it turned out, Time and the Maiden was actually a reissue, having originally been released on the band's own Nocturne Records in 1998. The Metropolis version tacks on two remixes and a previously unreleased song. It was also not the record they were promoting at the time, that actually being the remix CD Time Again. Regardless, the label sent both Time and the Maiden and Time Again to WAIH with the expectation that the latter disc would be charted. Diligent as a music director, Time Again was put on the RPM playlist and did get a good amount of play. Personally though, I've never been terribly fond of most remixes, so an album full of them didn't do much for me. But Time and the Maiden damn near immediately because one of my favourite albums.

The group consists of three members: Benjamin Fargen (guitars), Chris Ross (keyboards, programming) and lead vocalist Victoria Lloyd. It's pretty simple really, if you like the Cocteau Twins, Lush or The Sundays, you should like this group. Here we find ourselves comfortably located in the land of lush, beautiful, haunting dreampop. When I first purchased this CD, I remember many nights where I'd put it on repeat play in my CD player and just let it wash over me.

When I had an RPM playlist slot to fill during my radio show, I'd give something off of Time Again a spin, but otherwise, I was playing songs from Time and the Maiden. "Iolite," in particular, got heavily played on my show.

In all honesty, I think the remixes on Time Again destroyed most of these songs. The staff at AllMusic.com must be smoking some crazy crack to think Time Again warrants 4½ stars while Time and the Maiden only gets 3 stars. A grave injustice, I say!

Time and the Maiden is Claire Voyant's second album. The group's self-titled debut was released in 1995 on Nocturne, reissued in 1998 on Hyperium and reissued once more in 2000 on Accession. Each reissue changed the cover art – collect all three? Good luck if you can get your hands on one copy though. I've never been able to get my hands on a copy of the disc and it currently seems to be out of print (again). Amazon.com is offering the album as a digital download, which to me is like only owning half an album. I refuse to purchase MP3s, which as far as I am concerned are what you get when you rip a CD to your computer, not something that one should acquire divorced from the physical media they are derived from. Frustratingly, as of this writing, if you want that physical CD, expect to pay at least $26.39 or as much as $55.99 to get a used copy. While I want a copy of the album, that is just not in my price range. A CD should never cost more than $10 (and a used CD should cost less than that).

As originally produced, "Blinking Tears" closed the album. However, my copy is the Metropolis reissue. As such, there are three additional tracks to listen to. I like having "Instinct," as it would otherwise be unavailable but I question the need for remixes. Unlike most of the grafted beats which plagued Time Again, these two mixes don't bother me as much. The "low mix" of "Love The Giver" makes Claire Voyant sound like Switchblade Symphony, though between Victoria Lloyd and Tina Root, there should be no question as to whom is the better singer. Meanwhile, the "bitter mix" of "Bittersweet" gives the original song a similar understated treatment.

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Seth Warren

May 2017

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