Having been backed into a corner by a legal challenge from an American band of the same name, Australian experimental electronic outfit Pivot now return as PVT for their third studio album. 'Church With No Magic' is a dark affair, its solemn vocal harmonies often toting hymn-like qualities in keeping with the album's title. These are soon brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century with strong beats and aggressive electronics, often strange and quirky, imbuing a dance-like quality on the otherwise gloomy compositions.
While the word 'gloomy' might usually be perceived in a negative light, in fact it's the grim nature of PVT's atmospherics that makes 'Church With No Magic' intriguing. The menacing ambience of 'Crimson Swan', with its distorted guitar and varying sinister side effects, make it one of the album's highlights, while 'Only The Wind Can Hear You' somehow successfully re-creates a weather-worn soundscape without ever attempting to actually imitate the wind.
It is, sadly, a touch repetitive in places. The spooky, almost paranormal, vibe of 'Waves & Radiation' would have served nicely as an atmospheric interlude between songs, but it's far too long and soon grows tiresome. The buzzing bass synths of 'Timeless' are just plain irritating, and while detached sampled voices create an up-tempo pace and enlivening backdrop for single 'Window', the effect is marred when the same technique is used to less potent effect on the sparse, echoing and bass-heavy 'Circle of Friends'. For all its flaws, 'Church With No Magic', is an innovative and modern collection of curiously crafted music that can be rewarding if the right mood takes you.