Hologram of Baal is the eleventh album by the Australian psychedelic rock band The Church, released in September 1998. It was written and recorded following the full-time return of founding guitarist Peter Koppes, who had left the band in 1992 after the Priest=Aura tour. It was also the first album which the band had produced on their own and was recorded and mixed by their drummer Tim Powles. Album titles originally proposed by singer Steve Kilbey included Bastard Universe and Hologram of Allah, but these were rejected as too inflammatory. In the end, the latter was amended with the name of a deity from the Canaanite pantheon and the former was used as the title of the bonus disc. The song "This Is It" is about the death of INXS front man and fellow Australian, Michael Hutchence.
The Church, like their namesake, are capable of both beautiful and terrifying things. Uninvited, Like the Clouds, their seemingly hundredth album since 1980, has everything an adoring fan could want, and all the ammunition a detractor could carry. Steve Kilbey, Marty Willson-Piper, Peter Koppes, and newest member Tim Powles have constructed a bloated, beautiful, unsettling storm of a record that manages to celebrate improvisation and songcraft without any favoritism, resulting in their most cohesive record since 1992's underrated Priest = Aura.
This 33-track overview plays like an expanded version of 1999's Under the Milky Way: The Best of the Church. The two-disc Deep in the Shallows: The Classic Singles Collection includes all of the obvious hits like "Unguarded Moment," "Under the Milky Way," "Ripple," and "Metropolis," while incorporating key tracks from the band post-1999 like "Numbers" (After Everything Now This), "Song in Space" (Forget Yourself), and "Block" (Uninvited, Like the Clouds). While the recent remasters of all of the original recordings remain the most solid recommendation for dream pop/alternative rock fans who missed the boat the first time around, this Classic Singles Collection is the perfect gateway drug.
Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com
Sometime in the ‘70s, Sony (then CBS) released a two LP set called The Respighi Album which contained, among other pieces, The Church Windows and The Birds. Now The Birds had been recorded before and was pretty well known, but Church Windows was a stereo novelty, and it made a tremendous impression. Now this legendary performance has been remastered onto a budget-priced CD at a fraction of the cost of the original! It sounds better than ever–those magnificently deep organ pedals in the second movement (depicting the Archangel Michael with his flaming sword) will send your neighbors running for cover. What fun! –David Hurwitz
This two-disc collection is a perfect introduction to the Church for new fans, given all the many singles collected from Of Skins and Heart up through Heyday, along with an album cut or two. As an overview of the band's evolution from catchy postpunk pop to its own thrilling musical recipe, along with some amusing liner notes from Kilbey song per song, it's a definite winner. But hardcore fans will want this collection as well for an even stronger reason – the inclusion of many B-sides not collected anywhere else. Ranging from the randomly goofy to the sublime, they give a great peek into the band's diversions and experiments over its first few years.