Friday, June 1, 2012

Forever Reign - One Sonic Society




One Sonic Society recognizes that it is better to worship a transcendent God than to foster the illusion of being a super-group.

Forever Reign
Artist: One Sonic Society (www.onesonicsociety.com)
Label: Essential Worship
Length: 10 tracks/56:50 minutes

I want to call One Sonic Society a modern worship super-group, but no band in their right mind will want to wear such a label. When Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech formed Blind Faith, shortly after the dissolution of the super-group Cream, this new incarnation was being promoted as such, but the expectations that came with it were a burden. So even though the three members of One Sonic Society are all highly-skilled, I won’t weigh them down by attaching an unrealistic title.

Nonetheless, you should know a little of their background. Jason Ingram is a name that you will often see as a writer, producer and performer on worship music releases. Of course, Delirious is an instantly recognizable name to many. Since their disbanding, guitarist Stu G has been involved in session work, which may have led in part to this collaboration. Paul Mabury, a native of Australia and one of Nashville’s most in-demand drummers, rounds out the group.

Even with such exceptional parts, the sum is greater than the individual talents. It is a sonic joy to hear the rich blend of vocals and music. Alice Cooper has rightly stated that part of what made musicians like George Harrison, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards and Ringo Starr great was what they didn’t play. They play at the right time. Similarly, there is no excess here. What makes me appreciate Stu G more than ever is not his abandon, but the near perfect restraint that hears him playing just the right thing. The same could be said of the others on this recording.

They do not reinvent the genre. They make it their own by using just enough creativity to make it interesting while keeping it engaging. There is a definite Euro influence, which occasional has a more industrial edge. That and the sometimes ethereal base come from the use of programming. It all makes for a solid collection that I took to immediately and can easily listen to repeatedly.

The songs often start quietly before becoming anthems. My spirit soars with group background vocals that give this a live feel, while having the superior fidelity of a studio release. It is the best of both worlds.

I am not sure how many of the songs count as new ones, but I suspect that most fall in that category. The writers, in addition to group members, are some of the best in the business. The only track familiar to me, “Forever Reign,” was co-written by Ingram. Though there have probably been numerous versions, here the keyboard notes dance like rain bouncing off a roof. Stu G’s guitar drives the chorus. It’s one highlight among many.

Modern worship has been criticized and perhaps rightly for some of the ways it has fallen short. However, those who may be cynical should remember that it is often inspired by a sincere desire to facilitate an experience of God’s presence. I listened to this one Saturday near the beginning of my day and it changed my outlook. Those like my sister, who relish this type of music, know that just listening can draw one heavenward. I realize how valuable a recording like this can be, especially for those who may be prone to depression or feelings of hopelessness.

These highly skilled servants of Christ more than meet expectations but demonstrate their humility by harnessing their talents in a way that brings glory to Christ. It’s like they are throwing their crowns before God’s throne. They wisely recognize that it is better to worship a transcendent God than to foster the illusion of being a super-group.
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