Thursday, October 3, 2013

"I Am Mountain" by Gungor | Album Review

You guys. I really love new, awesome music. And I want to share what’s been tickling my eardrums this week.

Gungor (formally the Michael Gungor Band) released a new album. Gungor has got to be one of my favorite bands--I love how they use their excellence in technical skill in creative and thought-provoking ways. Their latest album, “I Am Mountain” definitely does not disappoint on this front.

Peter and I had a great time listening to the album together the other night and we both noticed that the songs on the album cross many genres--from western rock, to a techno feel, to Gungor’s signature complex acoustic sound--the variety was refreshing and kept our attention.

The title track, “I Am Mountain” was the perfect way to start it off--it has that distinct Gungor flavor--beautiful mix of piano trills, acoustic guitar and driving percussion, and yet it is different enough to let you know this album is going in a new direction. Not to mention the captivating lyrics:

“We are ocean, we are mist, brilliant fools who ruled and kiss”
“Momentary carbon stories, From the ashes, filled with Holy Ghost
Life is here now, breathe it all in”

Peter loved the sound and lyrics of “Long Way Off”--seriously, who else could use crazy words like these and get away with it so beautifully?

“The erudite composed a thesis
Everything we see is all, all, all there is
But as an apophatic mystic
We’re a long way, we’re a long way, we’re a long way
We’re a long way, we’re a long way, we’re a long way off”

I was completely captivated by Lisa Gungor and the fantastic music editing on “Wandering.” I’ve never heard autotune used so intentionally--it perfectly communicated the ideas of the lyrics and lent itself to the haunting tune. I definitely have had these lines running through my mind all week:

“I’ve been wandering through this world, Looking for an anchor to hold me
I’ve been stumbling through this world, Searching for the thread that might free me
I am looking to you, I am holding on to you”

If you were to ask me what’s your favorite song on the CD as of right now, I’d go with this one. Well done, Gungor!

And “God and Country”? That sound--wow! Bring on the wild west, my friends! Love it--different, fun, driving, throwback and so fresh all at once.

Fair warning--not every song is easily explainable or understood at the first listen--“The Beat of Her Heart” tells a story with some adult themes:

“He was a tempest, His craving a storm, He lusted her body from deep in the grove
Enraptured or captured, Betrayed or betrothed
She would be his, She’d be his alone”

And “Finally” gives a picture of us post-resurrection that not many initially imagine:

“Finally, We’ll chase the sun
Naked we’ll run, We could just be, Finally
We could be free, Finally”

What can I say? Like Jon Foreman, Gungor’s fine with singing about whatever themes God puts on his heart. You can definitely find more explicit pictures in scripture, for goodness sake, and that helps me be OK with it. I believe these artists are using their skills to glorify Christ.

At times Peter and I felt like the songs on this album could have been written for a musical, or to go with a movie. What that tells me is they did a fantastic job in storytelling--both musically and lyrically. The created epics within our earbuds, and we eagerly enjoyed the ride.

To be honest, I was secretly hoping for more songs that could be used in a worship setting from Gungor--but it’s pretty clear that wasn’t the intent of this album. So going into it with that understanding, this is a stellar, musically diverse and technically excellent composition. I appreciate having solid, well-crafted music that isn’t worship but using skill to glorify Jesus Christ.  The lyrics make you think, and the music is perfect for many situations--I’ve already listened to it while driving, at work and I can’t wait to have it going when I have friends over!

Let me know what you think of the album (and if you like it, support them and buy it--available as album and vinyl)--and if it’s not your cup of tea, what do you love listening to these days?

P.S. Full disclosure: no one gave me anything to write this. I just like good music and want you to know about it, too!

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