The Church Block EP

Block is an Extended Play CD from The Church, and it came out in the middle of the last decade. I have a hard time reconciling the fact that this is already six years old. This single, and the album that it came from, called Uninvited Like the Clouds, is one of the great masterpieces of the lengthy catalog produced by The Church. It was never heralded like Untitled #23 or singled out for great reviews (although it was favorably received, just not with anywhere near as much enthusiasm).

This track should not be ignored. It is a powerful confessional, a career highlight, a sinewy walk through back alleys and desperation. If you know what it is to be down and out, Block is the song your soul sings back at you when you can't see straight after staring in the mirror. Block is the sound a loved-one turned junkie makes when they rummage through your drawers for a plastic knife and something made out of wax to put in their ears and stop the screaming. Block is where you end up when you're done swimming and can't find change to ride the bus home.

The package is amazing. This art was produced by Steve Kilbey, working with pastels on paper. The treatment that it is given here is as lovingly attended to as the music inside. You don't really expect a cold disc with it--when you open this up and look at it, you half expect a living piece of breathing, undulating vinyl to spill out and start playing of its own volition. You expect a gold ticket or a charm for a bracelet or a wisp of perfumed vapor to shoot out.

In this dead period between the collapse of the music business, the rise of self-financed artists who live off playing live, of downloads and bummers and bands that fall apart because there's no bread coming in, this is what brings music to the people who plunk down their cash for something physical they can walk away with. This is the dead tree era, and you feel ashamed someone cut down a tree to print this for a moment, and then you see how much attention was paid to making sure that no animals were harmed in the process of slapping this together. It's not junk. It's a work of art and it's brilliant.