The Brilliance

The Brilliance


Much like his brother, David Gungor is doing things differently. As a Christian frustrated with some of the tedium found in contemporary worship music, he’s making music with fellow Brilliance-member John Arndt, seeking a different sound for worship music.

A Gungor-Brilliance comparison seems obvious, but rightly deserved, as both are pushing the boundaries of Christian worship music through their poetic lyricism and intricate compositions. Take the Brilliance’s self-titled debut, for instance. David Gungor described the method of making that album by first focusing on a piano and a string quartet as the core of the compositions, then building from there. And it shows, as the intricate music leads the listener through a contemplation of our relationship to God.

It would be insightful to know more about how The Brilliance make their music, but you’d be hard pressed to find this information: The Brilliance are conspicuously absent in terms of discourse in the public square. But perhaps that part of the point: in keeping still and letting the music speak for itself, they try to keep the focus on the brilliance of God, not themselves as performers. All of their album art and photographs of themselves are in black and white as well, emphasizing quite wittingly that the glory and brilliance belongs to God, not themselves. It appears that the Brilliance are dealing the fine line between the worship of God and the fan-worship of musicians in Christian worship music. When audiences cheer for a worship band to play more, is it for the worship of God, or for the band to play more? Certainly this dynamic is always present in the worship music world, and The Brilliance are considering this in how they present themselves publicly. Or perhaps The Brilliance like the irony of their dark photography in light of their name. Regardless of intentionally, how a band portrays themselves affects their art as well, and in the case of The Brilliance, it appears to add a side of humility to their work.

Perhaps David’s brother, Michael Gungor says it best, describing their work as “musically rich, theologically brave, and emotionally honest.” It’s certainly work worth paying attention to, but to remember also that ultimately, the praise goes to God.

- Jacqueline Ristola

Calvin Performances

  • Jan 29, 2014; 8pm, LLC
    $10 public; $5 w/Calvin ID
  • Sep 28, 2012; 7pm, CFAC