Arista dropped them but the Church soldiered on – Tim Powles fully joined in the songwriting process a number of times, while Peter Koppes guested on various cuts after his absence from Sometime Anywhere. Violinist Linda Neil also appeared along with other guests from that record, with Magician Among the Spirits being the attractive end result. If the band was still a touch fragmented, Magician shows them well on the road to becoming a fully tight unit once again, with a number of interesting diversions along the way. Sonically, things followed in the vein of Sometime to a large extent, trying out different approaches and backing, often exploring more spacious, sometimes very late-night, relaxed arrangements.
Pere Ubu's troubles with record companies are legendary within certain underground rock circles. In perhaps the most bizarre turn of events, the group's collected works of 1978-1982 – after being out of print for nearly a decade – were reissued by Geffen as a five-disc box set, Datapanik in the Year Zero. Named after the group's 1978 EP, the set is arranged chronologically and occasionally substitutes live versions for studio tracks, but that hardly matters – nearly every song the band recorded during the five-year time span is included.