Posted October 23, 2015
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Denver-based Transform DJs is a group of three DJs focused on presenting electronic dance music that has been transformed by the power of Christ. Their hope is that it would reach an audience rarely addressed by the gospel message through high-energy live experiences and electrifying albums.
The latest studio project from the group is Never Alone, an album full of tracks that musically would be at home in a club or at a dance party while lyrically they explore foundational truths about who God is and what our relationship with Him is like. One of the highlight tracks, "Catch My Fall," beautifully demonstrates the group's ability to infuse edgy EDM sounds with deeply honest prayers. Opener "Valley" shows a similar strength, proclaiming God's faithfulness in the valley of the shadow of death over a rhythmic, danceable beat.
The title track "Never Alone" is a moment of musical variance in the project, creating a more accessible electro-pop sound with more straight-forward vocals and lyrics to declare "never alone, never alone / the waves come crashing, you're never alone. / Never alone, never alone / your world falls apart, you're never alone." This song has a structure many listeners will find more familiar and easy to engage.
Another strength of the album is its ability to create a dark musical atmosphere that still proclaims the presence of God. As the tracks progress, the theme of assurance that we are not alone even in the darkest moments of life unfolds beautifully over brooding electronic tension. "Fortress" is another standout moment as a rich, textured sonicscape backs the declaration that God is our fortress. "I Feel You" introduces a slight reggae tone as it explores that theme, declaring "even in the valley I can feel the sun."
Towards the end of the album, some of the tracks take a more upbeat turn, with "Voices" speaking in empowerment and solidarity as the redeemed Body of Christ, fighting to bring freedom to a hurting world. Eternity-focused "Forever" has a similar encouraging tone.
There is certainly a sense at moments that this album would be better experienced live, that the studio interpretation is not quite equivalent. This is to be expected however, given that DJing is an artform largely intended to be engaged in a live setting. Much of the group's relentless energy does manage to translate to these tracks though, as is evident on gritty "Can't Take It" or ethereal trance-influenced "Transfer."
Although some electronic-leaning bands bow to pop sensibilities to achieve wide Christian market accessibility, Transform DJs earn my respect by sticking to their mission with this project: it is techno-influenced EDM, with each track structured accordingly. Dance and trance music fans live largely in a vacuum when it comes to groups that actually present hopeful, Spirit-breathed lyrics, and this project is a deeply needed effort to fill some of that void. Better still, it's executed well. If you're an EDM fan looking for some light in an often dark genre, Transform DJs' Not Alone is well worth picking up-- or better still, worth finding a chance to experience live.
Song to Download Now:
"Fortress" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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