Friday, March 18, 2011

At the Edge of Imperfection - Joseph Henschel

Creativity spreads like wildflowers on worship recording

At the Edge of Imperfection
Artist: Joseph Henschel (http://www.josephhenschel.com/)
Label: Independent
Length: 12 tracks/53:02 minutes

Thankfully, we may have reached a stage where artists that create worship music are paying nearly as much attention to form as content. In earlier days a simple chorus and straightforward music garnered mass appeal. Artistry seemed to be secondary, with much of it sounding the same and not appealing to those with more refined tastes.

I see progress in recordings like At the Edge of Imperfection by Joseph Henschel. Sure, there are similarities with other recordings in the genre, but commonalities are inescapable. Some originality is what makes this a little different.

“Prelude” starts with the sounds of an old, scratchy vinyl record followed by the lone sounds of a piano made to sound like some forgotten recording. Though I have heard this before, it’s just one among several examples of the little touches sprinkled throughout this CD.

The song continues with acoustic guitar strumming that intensifies, building anticipation as Henschel repeats, “I was born to love you.” A crescendo followed by a solitary rhythmic electric guitar kick it up another notch, followed by the addition of drums. This is just the introduction to “Born to Love,” the second track.

The variation between acoustic sounds mingled with more modern ones works well. Just when “Ruler of My Heart” seems over, the last 30 seconds contain a quiet reprise of the lyrics accompanied by piano. Toward the end, “Awake the Day” has all the drive of a Coldplay song, but not unlike this influence who mix tranquil moments with rock, the last minute is a beautiful interplay of acoustic guitar, piano and angelic voices. As much as I like modern rock, these reprieves of quiet are my favorite moments.

Henschel deserves the credit. He produced and engineered this second release (he debuted with Capture Me on {L}istener Records) in such a way that like wildflowers bits of artistry pop up unexpectedly. The sound is clean and crisp and not over-produced.

The subject matter is what you would expect on a worship recording with alternating praise, declarations and pleas. He sings with obvious passion to music that matches his intensity.

One of the curiosities is the length of the title track, which is under two minutes. I should not be surprised. It’s another quiet, imaginative interlude that exudes the spirit of worship.

Don’t miss the hidden track at the end of “Beautiful Light.” It’s a fitting close, with nothing more than Henschel baring his soul to the strumming of his guitar.

If you download this and transfer it to a CD, don’t make the mistake of leaving a few seconds gap between tracks. Many of the songs are seamless (another creative plus), with the end of one being the beginning of another.

You can find At the Edge of Imperfection at Henschel’s website (see Artist listing above) and iTunes.
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