It looks like an adventurous, yet sensitive, approach to music runs in the Gungor family. This one is almost timeless, with a twist of now.
CD: 10 tracks, 39 mins
The Brilliance Music
“When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother,” goes the title track and “Why do we choose who’s in and who to cast out?” asks another. The Brilliance might tread their music softly, but they give it real purpose, and do it all with a ridiculously strong batch of tunes
If you want worship music that is deeper than the typical ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ type material, this is certainly one to investigate.
On the surface, it is reflective, stripped back and almost timeless, as most of the album uses classic instrumentation, particularly piano and strings. I say, “almost timeless,” because the other musical colours are so bright when they do come in, that it all takes on a contemporary edge.
Sometimes those colours are strong dashes of technology. Like most tracks, “Make us One” is stripped back, but this one is heavy on electronic percussion and what sounds like a treated cello, giving it the feel of later Derek Webb. It just about qualifies as drum & bass, but without the stylistic connotations.
The heart of the band is David Gungor (the brother of Michael, who has a reputation for both thoughtful content and a more artistic approach to his worship music). Co-leader is John Arndt, who was also in the band Gungor.
The content has a liturgical core. “Yahweh” is a preparation song that invites Jesus into our world. With its Kyrie lyrics and openness to God, “Prayers of the People” is one of several tracks simple, humble and reflective enough to be from Taizé. “Dust We Are and Shall Return” (written for Ash Wednesday) asks for God to make us whole. “Does Your Heart Break” is like one of David Crowder’s slower acoustic outings, appealing straight to the spirit.
As for other sonic similarities, several could almost be Future of Forestry pieces. There are similarities in vocal timbre, but more because the sound is full of Indie sensibility. Thanks largely to its strings section, “Love Remains” is another that could be from Future of Forestry, but final track “May You Find a Light (Reprise)” even more so (I wonder whether it is some kind of deliberate tribute). A combination of piano intro; a riff picked up by keys, fiddle and strings; together with a choral section on the chorus and their style of percussion make it something that would sit happily on FoF’s excellent Travel 2.
Their lack of pretension (accentuated by some tracks stopping before their time) is so heart-warming that you want this to succeed, as you do for their commitment to build bridges between people, but it does earn its plaudits musically.
We could do with more songs like these that actually reflect Jesus’ words and acknowledge the reality of this world. It is a huge bonus that Brother is so musically rich. Such is its palette (from the monks of Taizé to the progressive Americana of David Crowder) that it could equally appeal to both traditional worship music lovers and those drawn toward artists like Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver. Its strong melodic flair is so apparently effortless that it is as if they couldn’t write a bad tune if they tried.
This might not knock your socks off, but it does sneak upon you and give you a huge bear hug that you might feel compelled to return at length.