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Let me first make this clear: I'm not happy Hosannas/Church broke up. Last summer I wrote a pretty glowing piece about the avant-pop four-piece. I thought they had nowhere to go but up.

Their newly released record, Song Force Crystal, is more austere than the title would suggest. Recorded last November, it's a good primer, but only hints at the stunningly dynamic arrangements the foursome now command. At times Church's songs feel more like suites, blending together through beautiful sets. But if Church is indeed realized as a full-time alternative to the Olive Garden slog, it won't be long until the studio meets or exceeds the band's live prowess. Like the beer that's already good but still fermenting, Church have the promise and potential to become Portland's most stunning new band.

Instead they went out. The dynamics kept sprawling as the melodies and arcs became harder to trace. To put it another way, I think Hosannas/Church peaked.

Part of the reason the band is splitting changing, we're told, is so keyboardist Cristof Hendrickson and drummer Lane Barrington can pursue other projects. Barrington's long running (pre-Church) outfit, The Ocean Floor recently released Pop Quiz. It's Church-like in the way it bobs and weaves, layers all kinds of instrumental interplay, and occasionally takes sharp left turns. Unlike Church it never shies away from effervescence.

Listen:

The Ocean Floor "What's The Dream?"