World album complete, there were questions as to what the next Murphy album would be. Does he continue in that vein? Does he return to the pop rock leanings of the 90s? Does he completely reinvent himself once again? Reaching out and partnering with Paul Statham again (and for what would be the final time as the two would split over creative differences following the new album’s release), it became apparent that the seventh studio album (eighth overall with the release of the live album Alive Just For Love coming shortly before Dust) would be a return to familiar territory.
Produced by Gardner Cole (who was also acting senior vice president of Viastar Records, the label that would release the new album), Unshattered was largely a mix of the past. Statham was back to help write the new songs. Eric Avery, who had played bass during the 2000 tour, reprised his role, Kevin Haskins returned to contribute drums and Peter DiStefano once again was back on guitar.
Generally speaking, Unshattered was a safe album, reigning back the richness that defined Dust and instead focusing on what Murphy had done best throughout the 90s – the only difference being that this was an album which would fail to hold its own against that illustrative background. Appreciated at the time by Murphy, Cole’s touch on the album reigned back much of the moodiness that surrounded a typical Murphy album and avoided layering to a point where the album’s focus was primarily on the vocals, leaving a shallower musical backdrop than was typical. The large positive in Cole’s producing of Unshattered was that it brought Murphy back to the Bauhaus mindset for recording a new album – fast and in the spur of the moment. Where previous Murphy albums had taken months to record and produce, Unshattered was finished in approximately three weeks. This recording style would return as a mainstay for future writing and recording sessions of newer Murphy albums.
Unshattered was released in October 2004 to barely a rumble. It was almost a complete 180 degree turn from Dust. Unshattered, in some respects, mirrors David Bowie’s Hours (in that both were albums presenting large changes from the recent past works of both musicians which mostly left fans confused and did not impress reviewers). The new album, however, was almost immediately doomed for failure, regardless of the actual musical direction taken. At roughly the same time, Kevin Haskins had been approached by the creators of the large music festival Coachella about a possible Bauhaus reunion to headline the festival. With Bauhaus back on the main burners, a Murphy solo venture just wasn’t the primary focus at the time. Furthermore, Viastar would meet a similar demise as Red Ant Entertainment had nearly a decade earlier by folding rapidly and doing little overall to promote Unshattered.
Murphy did embark on a relatively small tour of the US and Europe to support Unshattered following the Coachella performance in 2005, but the priority had largely returned to Bauhaus, which would start a large tour of the US and Europe in October 2005, the Near The Atmosphere Tour. Without focusing too much on the Bauhaus side of what occurred next, suffice it to say that things did not work out as planned. Old rivalries and sore spots popped up again, undermining any realistic chance of Bauhaus being a lasting unit once more. After two major periods of touring, with a break in-between to record what would be the final Bauhaus album, Go Away White, it was clear Bauhaus was finally to be put to rest. Interestingly, of the songs that were performed off of Unshattered in 2005, none have since been performed live (save for Idle Flow only a handful of times – however, on pure speculation, this song was a re-recording for Unshattered, freeing it from possible contractual obligations that may have been tied to the new album and subsequently broken to allow for the Bauhaus reunion).