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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Nov
Sounds like … DJ-driven dance music, combining a series of break-beats, progressive house, and vocal contributions (taking cues from the likes of Moby, Gus Gus, Chicane, and Underworld)At a Glance … Hunter is the first Christian DJ/turntablist to build up a notable reputation in the mainstream club scene.

Excitement, glamour, and glow sticks are just a few characteristics of the dance club scene, and once a rave gets revved up, expect it to go well into the night. Quite often attendees will bump and grind to the beats of DJ Dan, groove to the mixes of Paul Oakenfold, or fall into a trace via Chicane. But when DJ Andy Hunter° gets behind a turntable in those exact same environments, the sound pulsating from his speakers represents peacefulness over pleasure and purity over passion. That innocent yet equally captivating vibe stems from Hunter's deep and abiding Christian faith coupled with his desire to worship with every vinyl rotation. (And no, we're not talking the type of contemporary praise you'd see on a Songs 4 Worship infomercial, this is a volatile example of veneration like you've never heard before).

Instead, Hunter offers up reverence through a kaleidoscope of down tempo, sequencing, break-beats, trance loops, and house music with occasional vocal accompaniment, ranging from crystalline wails to funky raps. Such a wide array of sounds were first chronicled on Hunter's 1997 Cultural Shift drum and bass collaboration with Martin King (in a duo they called Trip). English audiences quickly embraced such sounds, opening the door for Hunter to host the "Absolute Drum n' Bass" night at a South Wales club from 1999-2000.

The idea for his latest, Exodus, also came during 2000, although its initial writing and demoing phase took place over the next year and a half. By the middle of 2001, Hunter teamed up with producer Tedd T. (Jewel, Rebecca St. James) and caught the attention of both Nettwerk America in Los Angeles and Sparrow Records in Nashville, labels that picked up the project for co-distribution in both the sacred and secular markets. The result is a 10-track 70-minute swirling escapade through Hunter's spiritual philosophies set to a series of beats, mixes, and vocals. From the intoxicating album introduction, "Go," packed with a throbbing bass line and accelerating tone, it's apparent the soundtrack to Hunter's soul isn't only imaginative but also compelling. That opening cut can be compared to the coincidentally titled "Go" composition by Moby; both songs are dance-floor magnets, spewing forth rave-friendly energy and brief lyrical interludes to intensify the experience.

Exodus' next selection has a slight urban tint, thanks to raps by Lyle Day, while hushed spoken word segments offer up revitalizing messages of praise. The rhythmic delicacies produced on "Translucent" and "Amazing" also feature special guest vocalists, Cathy Burton and Christine Byrd respectively, both of whom accent the tracks with angelic voices. Their singing styles over Hunter's hypnotic beats can be best compared to the Icelandic outfit Gus Gus, while the lyrics once again point in the vertical direction. "Translucent" contains lines such as "I look into the great expanse / Your majesty is shown / Rainbow skies, sparkling ice / Beneath your sapphire throne," which are echoed during "Amazing" amidst shouts of "You take me high above the world I see / Way beyond the clouds / Beautiful clouds surround me." The less wordy yet equally beguiling "Show" also falls into the beatific category, with pointed synthesizers and string-styled arrangements producing an ethereal effect. Those more inclined to dance than meditate need not fear because Hunter quickly returns to his pulsating arrangements on "Sandstorm Calling," "Strange Dream," and "Intercessional," bringing Exodus to a triple-threat finale. On such cuts, Hunter bridges the worlds of acts such as Oakenfold, The Chemical Brothers, and current touring partner DJ Tiesto, creating a musical melting pot.

Hunter's American debut offers an array of sounds Christian audiences have yet to hear pulled off properly, while the record is full of spiritual sustenance devout believers may have wished for in Moby's repertoire. (Although that bald-headed ball of energy has articulated leanings towards a Christian faith, his expressions of such convictions are somewhat vague on record). The fact that Hunter wears his convictions on his sleeve without being overly preachy or pushy is what makes Exodus such an ideal release for any audience. It can feed those hungry for words of faith and give the less familiar a sample of what they're missing, while uniting both types of listeners under a common dance-based bond.