Michael Gungor tweets, “Do we move the horn player so that he isn’t so blocked by the concert bass drum? These are OK problems to have.”
This is what the leader of the band Gungor has to wrestle with as his band tours across the country promoting a new album Ghost Upon the Earth. Despite the instruments described, the group isn’t a symphony or jazz group. And it isn’t exactly a rock band either.
Gungor calls its music “liturgical post-rock,” and the new album strays even further from the realm of traditional contemporary Christian music than the breakout 2010 album Beautiful Things.
It is music designed to reflect the emotional reaction to life, creation, pain and the mysterious connection between God and man.
Ghosts Upon the Earth plays more like an experience than a worship album. The tracks are musically and lyrically complicated and diverse. The band surprises listeners with string, flutes, minor keys and accidentals. These are not songs that will or should be covered by amateur guitarists at camps, or be heard around the country on Sunday morning church services.
Gungor, the leader of the group, didn’t start the band to follow in the footsteps of Matt Redman, but to honestly and purposefully express himself and the band.
According to the web site, the record is full of meaning, from fast violin arpeggios that represent a primordial universe to the first heart beats of Michael and his wife Lisa’s baby girl, it’s much different than a lot of music out there.
Gungor songs typically convey the feeling of the message through the music itself, not just the lyrics. The song ‘When Death Dies’ seems to transform from an elegy into a bass-and-drum driven dance song, paralleling the resurrection itself as Gungor sings, “When death dies, all things live.”
The song “Ezekiel” beautifully sets Ezekiel 16 to music as tender as the grace it describes, and the listener can feel the pain of God through the notes.
Ghosts upon the Earth is exactly what should be expected from Gungor. It’s a different form of worship than what is heard in most contemporary churches, but it emphasizes the beauty and art involved in worshiping. It invokes awe in the way a poem or great painting might. It may not be made for participation, but listen to it to hear gifted artists create for their creator.
“Music doesn’t have to fit the mold to move people’s hearts, and at the end of the day, that’s really what we’re trying to do,” Gungor said in an interview on his site. “We’re trying to make honest music that opens people’s hearts.”