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  • Saturday, March 31, 2012
  • 8:00 PM–9:00 PM
  • Covenant Fine Arts Center
  • $15 public; $5 w/Calvin ID

with special guest The Brilliance

One of the shows getting the biggest buzz this year is a show of one of the talked about bands in the Christian culture realm: Gungor. Ever since their set last year, it seems everyone, from Relevant to Christianity Today, celebrates the band and their latest album Ghosts Upon the Earth. So why is everyone, especially Calvin students, connecting so well with Gungor? Their latest album perhaps best illustrates all the reasons why students love this band; with intricate music and meaningful lyrics, Gungor refuses to seek the easy answers, instead pushing the limits of contemporary worship music.

Ghosts Upon the Earth illustrates well how Gungor’s music and instrumentation is distinctly different from other worship bands. For one thing, Gungor isn’t afraid to get eclectic. The opening seconds of “Wake Up Sleeper” illustrates this perfectly, starting with strange instrumentation eventually coming together as whole. The band also occasionally varies in styles, incorporating genres from folk to funk to gospel where it suits them, while utilizing them effectively. Anyone familiar with Sufjan Stevens will feel at home when listening to “Brother Moon”; the folk elements of the song are not only pulled off nicely, but creates a sense of earthly embodiment  - a sense of creation before the fall - whole, unbroken, perfect shalom.

However, the music not only sounds nice, but Gungor also intentionally shapes their music to create meaning rather than a generic soundscape. “Let It Be,” a song about the creation of the world, starts off chaotically and spontaneously, reflecting the chaos existing before creation. Gradually, layers of sounds and instruments are added to musically illustrate the act of God’s creation. This kind of deliberate music is not  seen with many other worship artists, making Gungor a distinctly unique experience to listen to, especially live.

But it’s not just their lyrics that are unique; Gungor’s lyrics are also incredibly sophisticated and willing to explore topics many Christians rarely touch. Gungor is one of those rare worship bands that is not afraid to illustrate pain deeply; the song “Ezekiel” for example deals with love, pain, and loss, but never becomes didactic or reassuring to its audience. Gungor instead provokes thoughts of pain as well as glory, searching for deeper meaning beyond just plain comfort. “You are the Beauty” is another example of Gungor’s search for deep meaning, the lyrics affirming “breath and sex and sight/ all things made for good in love divine”. No other worship band I know is willing to even talk about sex, a topic often suppressed to avoid tough conversations. But it is incredibly important that Gungor did, affirming the goodness and beauty inherent in sexuality.

Gungor perhaps says it best in their marketing: “this is a group that believes listeners are intelligent enough to appreciate lyrical metaphor and allegory along with intricate time signatures and somewhat uncommonly paired instruments in pop or rock music.” Their latest album proves this with intricate meaningful music and lyrics, lyrics of the album partially inspired by The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Michael Gungor explains the vision of Gungor, stating that, “music doesn’t have to fit the mold to move people’s hearts, and at the end of the day, that’s really what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make honest music that opens people’s hearts.”

- Jacqueline Ristola

March 2012
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