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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Apr
Sounds like … pop-friendly dance mixes of your favorite modern worship songsAt a Glance … there are better versions of similar projects available, but E-Praise does demonstrate how one can adapt worship to any church's musical preference.

E-Praise is an electronic worship project that combines the talents of Swedish mix-master Erik Augustsson of Ultrabeat and vocalist Hannah Westin of New Born Soul. The album is a collection of ten modern-worship favorites rearranged in a dance/techno music style. Serious fans of dance music would call these "house mixes." Fans of Erasure, World Wide Message Tribe, Hypersonic, Code of Ethics, and of course Ultrabeat may be interested in hearing these dance versions of songs such as "The Heart of Worship," "Shout to the Lord," and "God of Wonders." The album works best when Erik applies the eurobeat sound to worship ballads you wouldn't normally associate with a dance beat. Though "I Love You Lord" is repetitive sounding here, that's part of the style, and the song offers a somewhat creative arrangement of a well-known worship chorus. (It's smart of Erik to add the well-known lyric from the hymn "Nothin' But the Blood.") Similarly, a worship classic such as "Jesus, Name Above All Names" works surprisingly well with a programmed dance track behind it. "God of Wonders" and "Shout to the Lord" also receive interesting facelifts when set to the pulsing dance beats.

Unfortunately, the rest of E-Praise is fairly predictable. The album's first track is "Open the Eyes of My Heart," and it's essentially the same arrangement as the fast rock version popularized by Sonicflood. All that's different is the substitution of the soft keyboards and the techno mix for the rock guitars. "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble" sounds virtually the same as the fast dance version done by Raze on their 2000 album, The Plan. Along those lines, "Let Everything That Has Breath" and "More Love, More Power" both sound exactly like what you'd expect of simple dance versions of these songs.

The arrangements aren't helped by the mediocre quality of the programming either. Delirious' gentle "What a Friend I've Found" is turned into an upbeat dance-pop track reminiscent of '80s dance sensation Erasure, only as done on a computer with simple music-making software. When it comes to dance music, one expects a certain level of polish and quality to the sound. There are projects similar to this that were released 5-10 years ago by artists such as Code of Ethics and Hypersonic. Today, it's difficult to recommend this album compared to the creative programming of Apt•Core, the inventive musicianship of Rivertribe, or the authentic quality of the upcoming debut from Andy Hunter.

That said, there's something to be gleaned from E-Praise, and that's the adaptability of worship to any congregation's musical tastes. Though E-Praise doesn't measure up in quality to similar albums already available, I think the idea is right on the money and perfect for inspiring youth groups to worship God in ways that are familiar and comfortable to them. The majority of modern-worship albums today rely heavily on alternative pop/rock or acoustic/folk. But there's more to worship than those genres. My own church youth band was into ska music a few years ago and were thrilled that The Insyderz released the Skalleluia worship albums. Some bands have successfully set worship to goth-rock, hip-hop, and heavy metal. If your youth group is into dance music, encourage them to check out E-Praise. It might inspire them to try something similar with the worship music of your church.