By Your Side 
Artist: Psalmistry 
Label: UK indie 

I got very mixed reports about Psalmistry before I ever heard them. Some people are claiming them as the future of Christian dance music in Britain, while others really don't seem to like them. I listened to their debut album, Double Edged, and had very mixed feelings...feelings that solidified a bit with By Your Side. 

As we await their second album (rumoured to be a big step up from Double Edged), this four-song single has been released to fill the gap. The first track opens to a repeated sample of what sounds like a modem, before a quirky beat comes in, and then some breakbeat drum programming. There are vocals coming in to add effect, spacey keyboard sounds, and a little way through some sampled preachers prepare the way for the lyrics. The vocals are clear and well-suited to the music, if not exceptional. The eight-minute duration is too long though; I would have preferred to hear things pulled together more in a shorter track. 

Strangely, the second track is titled "The Opening."  This track starts off with a very empty arrangement - some sampled percussion underneath a stop/start beat, with keyboards appearing after a minute and a half. After the keyboards come the rapped vocals, which unfortunately sound rather 'cheesy' to me, without much flow (in the style of someone like WWMT's Cameron Dante). 

Vocals on the third track, "Catch the 101," also remind me of World Wide Message Tribe, this time with the Heavyfoot style vocals. Musically, this brings some of the Prodigy influences more to the fore,  with a more aggressive style, but isn't yet up to the standard of The Fat of the Land.  The line 'Catch the rhythm, the rhythm of revival' is repeated for most of the song, which isn't exactly profound but is suited to the genre. The female vocals from the first track return further on and work well for me. 

The CD ends with "By Your Side (fluid mix)." This time things are kicked off with the vocals unaccompanied. The refrain "Lord be my guide/Draw me nearer to your side" is repeated as ambient keyboards build up. After a couple of minutes a slow drum track comes in. A slow rap is thrown in, sounding much better than earlier efforts, and the vocals return before fading out at the end. 
  
These guys definitely have some interesting ideas, and some time with a top producer would probably result in some strong tracks--but until then, all I can say is they show potential. 

By James Stewart 

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