Review Summary: A journey of space exploration to a foreign planet where there's something evil lurking in the shadows.
The idea of space travel is appealing for many reasons. The ability to discover and explore the unknown is unparalleled, and the sense of adventure is maybe even stronger. But these ideas typically exist in idealized versions of space exploration and voyages into the unknown. Of course it would be exciting to be the first to land on an unexplored planet - to be exposed to a world that’s completely new. But being placed into a world filled with so much to be discovered has the potential to be dangerous. There’s sure to be a chilling power from the heavy weight of the surrounding silence, and questions that arise about what might be lurking in the shadows. And what happens when the sun sets and the fear takes over"
These are the questions that Churches Schools and Guns
attempts to answer. After a dissonant intro track, "Leave Us Alone" beams in with its cold, space-traveler curiosity. Filled with eerie reverberations, futuristic buzzing, and foreign gleams of outer-space synth-lines, the track outlines in clear detail the setting that the first two-thirds of Churches Schools and Guns
takes place within. "Leave Us Alone"'s lighter rhythmic shuffling places the creepy atmospherics somewhere in close orbit with Geogaddi
-esque IDM. The album never releases that connection completely, but the percussion takes a turn towards meticulously paced techno, and the aesthetics morph into darker materializations of dread.
A large portion of Churches Schools and Guns
' appeal comes from the exploration of its foreign landscape. There's a well-defined structure to the repetitious whallop of the drum-track's grooves, whether it comes from the earth-shaking four-on-the-floor beat that backs the creepy vocal manipulations on "Follow The Leader" or the more spacious pounding of "Laws And Habits", and the mood is relentlessly chilling. It's cold and it's dark, but there's life on this planet. The synth passages provide a very organic ambience, weaving their way in and out of the tracks’ rigid formations unpredictably - consistently evolving and expanding on their narratives and completely eliminating any potential for monotony.
Just as the album's unrelenting mood grows slightly weary with the somewhat weaker "Catch Twenty Two", the album's most important track "The Illusion Of Choice" takes off like a shuttle launch with everything on the line, and not a single aspect of Lucy's sound is scaled back in the slightest. The drum kicks are pistoning with full force, the bassline is unforgivingly assertive, and the foreign sounds that made up distant, ominous reverberations and secret murmurings have shifted themselves to the forefront, completely discarding the shroud of mystery they were cloaked under until now. It's blistering, forceful techno at its most masterful, and it never sacrifices the album's important themes for its power.
"The Illusion Of Choice" is important not only because of its raw force, but because it splits the album in two. The latter segment of Churches Schools and Guns
feels like a much-needed comedown from the initially overbearing sense of fear and darkness. The soft, airy flutterings found on "We Live As We Dream" and "Falling" function like a cushiony bed to fall on top of after a long day of exertion, which isn't a very distant comparison. Churches Schools and Guns
functions like a vivid journey. It's something that evokes powerful feelings, moods, and atmospheres. It can be draining at times, but sometimes that’s necessary to get the most out of a rewarding experience.