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Sunsets & Sushi:Experiments In Spectral Deconstriction EP
Artist: David Crowder Band 
Label: Sparrow

Life EP
Artist: Andy Hunter 
Label: Sparrow

Sparrow Records' continuing commitment to electronic/dance music mystifies as much as it pleases me. When remix sets by roster staples such as Avalon, Jump 5 and Zoegirl make the top five of Billboard 's chart for such albums but barely graze the same trade magazine's contemporary  Christian list, one has to wonder who's getting what money out of the deal. If any tracks from them are being played DJ's who report to Bb's club and dance radio charts, I've not seen any cut from any of those collections make those charts.

The latest in the series may be both the least expected and one of the most satisfying. When they're not being messed about in post-production, David Crowder Band number among the most listenable and intelligent in praise&worship rock bands. Perhaps because they care more about the elements of superior song craft (not to mention thelological acuity) than many of their peers, their songs nevertheless lend themselves well to the pretentious, if descriptively, titled Sunsets & Sushi:Experiments In Spectral Deconstruction EP. 

Remixers, mostly with more Christian market than dance floor cred', tweak eight Crowder Band songs into house, electro-pop, light trance, and ambient experimentalism exercises. Though most of those behind the boards look to be fledglings at this kind of gig, the results succeed more often than not. 

For a group for whom lyrics define its objective, the dub effects given to a couple of these tracks threaten to defeat Crowder's purpose. No matter the after-the-fact treatments given them, there's no denying the melodic thrust of radio hits "O Praise Him (All This For A King)" and "Open Skies" as well as "Revolutionary Love" and "Stars" (given the trippiest workover of the bunch). 

Crowder pushes the envelope of some of his fanbase's perception of what his group's songs should sound like on S&S, but they should have plenty to like. Or ponder, at least. Whether any of it goes over clubwise-and whether Sparrow will partner with a specialty label or promotions firm to push it there-remains an equaly significant question.

Andy Hunter's work needs no remixing to make it relevant for the strobe light set. The English DJ/musician/singer's debut for Sparrow, Exodus, saw action not only among those seeking sweaty (secular) nightlife. His sleek, propulsive trance, etc. likewise found its way into videogame, TV, movie and promotional campaign use. The dance market push came by a partnership with Canada's Nettwerk Records. 

Hunter's six-song Life sounds like it will continue that streak of utilitarian musical evangelism. This time, however, there's a harder edge to his breakbeats. The trancey synth sheens are bolstered by metallic guitar edges. 

He not only refines his strengths, but pushes into fresh terrain. "Wonderful" sounds like Hunter's bid for dance-rock attention from the same folks who were blissed out over New Order 20 years ago or Bloc Party nowadays. 

Harkening further back, on a couple tracks, including "To Light To Life," Hunter sounds to be paying homage to producer/composer Giorgio Moroder's formative influence on trance. He succeeds at recalling a mentor and taking that mentorship into exciting directions.

Lyrically, Hunter has toured the U.S. as a P&W act (a common context for sanctified dance in Ol' Blimey), though his words may no be explicit as some might like when it comes to exaltation of the Most High. Since Hunter plays to and for many non-Christian audiences, his work begs the question of whether P&W is intended for those who don't yet know God, but let's save that for another day, OK?

On the whole, Life excites, uplifts and encourages. That sums up the rationale for godly dance music mighty nicely.

Jamie Rake 6/4/2005

David Crowder Band has become a force within modern praise and worship. Fans love their songs, such as "Open Skies" and "Revolutionary Love."  They have enjoyed a good bit of radio success recently.  Their tours have been extremely successful.  They have established themselves as one of the most creative bands in praise and worship today so fans welcomed the idea of a remix CD.  Unfortunately, the results don't live up to the level of creativity that the band is known for.  This project feels more like a smashups CD, with the music from one song mixed with the vocals from another, than a remix CD.  Sure, some of the songs on this project feature some dance beats and hip hop beats, but the vocals are pretty much just as they appear on the standard versions of these songs.  It doesn't take too many listens to tell that the band has used the same vocals and just put them over top some different types of beats.  This might be somewhat forgivable, except the beats grow boring after a while.  For some songs, the beats grow boring within the first listen, but for others they grow boring after repeated listenings. 

Another problem with this project is one that seems to be cropping up on some EMI-CMG CDs.  Not all CD players can play it.  This is sure to upset some people who buy it.  The difficulty is with the copy protection that EMI-CMG uses.  Just as with other recent Sparrow releases, the enhanced content is pretty weak on this project as well. 

Fans of the David Crowder Band will enjoy this project but others may grow tired of it. 

Burton Wray July 10, 2005



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