This album is a The Church (band)-related release. After Peter Koppes' departure in 1992, the band members turned their attention to outside projects in 1996 and 1997. Willson-Piper saw collaborations with Brix Smith (The Fall), Adult Net, Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes) and Cinerama, while also beginning a side project with ex-All About Eve bandmates (titled Seeing Stars) and writing new solo material. Kilbey wrote the score for Australian film Blackrock and recorded an ambient, instrumental album, Gilt Trip, with brother Russell P. Kilbey.
In the absence of any new work as 'The Church', Kilbey, Powles and Koppes spent some studio time together as well. The resulting material - released under the guise of The Refo:mation (initially The Reformation, but altered upon Powles' request as a courtesy to Willson-Piper) was largely put together in a few quick recording sessions. Loose in feel, but richly atmospheric, the eccentrically-titled Pharmakoi/Distance-Crunching Honchos With Echo Units saw a greater focus on concise, guitar-dominated songs, rather than the uncontrolled experimentation of Magician Among the Spirits.