Like a transmission from deep space, the slow-build intro to a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” emerges like a slowly expanding super nova. Then everything bursts into stars and we’re off on a glorious space rock odyssey. It’s the first track on Space Bootleg, a new all-too-under-the-radar live release by the Church. Okay, it’s technically not the Church – though it is 3/4 of the band (minus guitarist Peter Koppes) with the addition of musicians Jordan Brebach and William Bowden.
Going by the name Mercator Projection, this was a one-off show recorded on Dec. 23, 2006 at The Basement in Sydney, Australia. Having sat in the vaults since then, Church singer/songwriter/bassist Steve Kilbey has released a digital-only version of the majority of the show through his Bandcamp site.
If you like the Church when they get psychedelic and experimental (as I do), this collection of covers of Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, Neil Young and Deep Purple- along with a smattering of originals like a 16 minute version of “Magician Among the Spirits”- is for you. Piloting their instruments through strange kaleidoscopic galaxies of sound, it’s a magical performance.
With the recent release by the Church of the DVD/CD set Psychedelic Symphony (itself another live career highlight), it’s a shame Space Bootleg is getting a bit lost and overshadowed. It’s deserving of greater attention. Put your headphones on, hop into your silver machine and set the controls for the heart of the sun.