|An Unexpected Cinematic Soundtrack | Posted March 21, 2013
Over the past few years, Bethel Music has exploded from a rather understated Northern California community to the corners of the earth, bringing worshipful choruses that invite and invoke the presence of God.
Known for some profound and touching lyrics--my personal favorite is "You Know Me"--the Bethel team is trying to make a point that worship is more than words. It's an attitude of the heart; an expression of the soul.
To that end, Bethel Music has released Without Words, an album that takes some of its best-loved songs and instrumentalizes them.
It's only fitting that the first song should be "What Does it Sound Like," an ambient, otherworldly vibe that carries more electronic elements than one would realize at first listen. Violins, guitars and xylophonic tones launch the song, and driving electronic synths explode, telling a story of seeking and finding Heaven on earth.
"God I Look to You" has a lullaby feel to it, with a single soothing acoustic guitar providing much of the instrumentation. Wind-blowing sounds and short-lived vocalizations ("ohh") provide a dream-like atmosphere.
Those expecting an entirely instrumental album won't find it, as there definitely is singing from time to time on this album; the only thing is, nobody's singing intelligible words. We hear "ohh" and "ahh" vocalizations scattered throughout the closing credits soundtrack sound of "Forgiven," which add to the fact that hearts are being expressed, not mere words. These sounds almost signal a sense of relief by humanity, who has been forgiven by God through Jesus.
The sound of a rotary phone opens "For the Sake of the World," which lends us to believe that this song is a call--but to whom? Calling tones sound, and there's a part of the song that uses horns, that almost sounds like hold music. The story here is almost like someone is calling to the world with the Good News they have, encounters resistance and delay, but ultimately makes a connection that is profound and life-changing to others. This is illustrated as techno warbles and scratches transition the song from the "hold" sound into a childlike lullabye sound that erupts into a piano-techno symphony. The connection has been made.
Echoing, otherworldly vocalizations and acoustic guitar introduce "Angels." It almost sounds like a Gungor song, with the xylophones, oohs and acoustic guitar interplay. The lyrical version of this song is a call out to the angels to sing along with humanity in the praises of Jesus. This version carries that celebratory, invitational vibe.
"Come to Me" is a warm, inviting piece that really demonstrates the heart of Father God as kind, caring and available. It almost has a kingly, regal, processional kind of feeling to it, accentuated by a brass section that fades in. Driving drums add to a moment of dramatic, cinematic embrace from the Father.
A music box sound (complete with something that sounds like the winding knob) opens "To Our God," which gives way to simple, subdued, pulsating tones with vocals echoing in the background. The childlike wonder turns to mysterious sounds, with an "Inception"-like cello and strings propelling the song into surprising grinding synths. It seems that out of this mystery and belief comes a strong army of the Lord.
"One Thirst" begins with a lot of distorted radio frequency noise that gives way to a peaceful melody, much like how we have to tune out the noise of the world intentionally to find communion with God. One can almost hear the sounds of the ocean or even raindrops scattered throughout this track, illustrating the presence of God in the secret places of our hearts.
The original version of "Worthy is the Lamb" is a very repetitive refrain declaring the words of Revelation 5:12. This treatment has that same repetitive declaration of praise. A chorus of oohs and ahhs gives you the picture of what worship sounds like when language is stripped away. Video game sounds and distracting squeaking sounds tie the choruses together.
Sliding and slapping acoustic guitar sounds introduce "I Will Exalt," another track that could belong to Gungor, or even the soundtrack of the movie August Rush. The song starts out from a place of simple expectancy, and leads into an almost shy chorus. Fueled by a "verse" of electronic elements, the second chorus shows an increase in fervor, leading to a euphoric and declarative end.
When I first saw the concept of Without Words, I honestly expected an elevator music album of Bethel songs. I had no idea the depth of the artistry that would go into an album that doesn't have a single lyric.
Fans of Bethel will recognize some of the melody lines, but it's really not even possible to compare these cinematic tracks to the originals. They're two totally different experiences. This is, plain and simple, a soundtrack--an epic soundtrack of the life of faith and the pursuit of Christ. Well done, Bethel!
Song You Must Download Now:
"What Does it Sound Like" (click here to download on iTunes
Comments (0) | Add Comment | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No