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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: The Desert Fathers
Length: 10 tracks, 29:03
Perhaps you think Radiohead is confusing. If that's the case, prepare to enter a whole new realm of how truly bizarre music can be. Actually, regardless of your thoughts on Radiohead, you'll find The Desert Fathers bizarre. But we're just getting started...
The Desert Fathers is composed of Acquaman, The Real, and Levitas. Who are these guys? I haven't the faintest idea, but I can tell you what they've done on their debut The Spirituality. They have created the first truly original album of the 21st century. This is a constant battle between consonance and dissonance and honestly, I'm still not sure who wins. But I do know it's one heck of a fight.
Some of the album's tracks are chants, many are wild guitar romps, and a few are guitar drones from out of nowhere. We've got some spoken word here (though certainly not of the kind you're used to hearing. "At first the monkeys in Africa were running wild, swinging from tree to tree on the vines, eating bananas, throwing coconuts at one another," is just one example). The most enjoyable moments come on the aforementioned wild guitar romps, with "The Art of Reason" sticking out at the top of the list. But I'm pretty sure that The Spirituality wasn't created with enjoyment as the foremost goal.
It's quite obvious from one look at the liner notes that this album takes a good deal of thought to come to understand and appreciate. I'll be honest, I still don't totally get it. One thing I can tell is that the album is a spiritual journey that takes place through dreams and characters who meet other characters. There are some strange images to be found. In the aforementioned "The Art of Reason" we see that, "On his morning walk, the Professor happened upon two dogs sniffing each other. Apalled, the Professor decided to intervene, imploring the animals: 'You must allow me to reason with you.'" It is in short snippets like this that The Desert Fathers dish out profound truths. All the listener can do is dive in headfirst and get started on trying to understand it all.
Is this an album that you will want to listen to constantly? Probably not. But it is so intriguing that you will want to come back every few days and see if it will make any more sense. Odds are that as time passes by, it will.
Trae Cadenhead 3/7/2004
Oh, this one was FUN to review folks. The Desert Fathers are named after an ancient monastic order whose members withdrew from society to live alone. In the desert I wisely presume. They have created ½ hour musical masterwork that defies description and demands repeat plays.
The Spirituality is one of the most fun, original, genre-mixing bits of musical mayhem that I have listened to in a while. Whirling bits of psychedelic art-rock, progressive pop and even some hip-hoppy loops are mashed together in a punchy mix. On The Spirituality strong guitar lines, buoyant bass and booming drumming provide a great backdrop for a memorable musical ride, and the lyrics/story provided with the CD add an odd, off-kilter, and sometimes hilarious look at Christian spirituality.
The album is a story detailing an individual’s journey towards God. From falling away to embracing God in death, the story is shared in whimsical and profound ways through the lyrics and music. And it is funny! Witness this bit from “The Art of Reason”: “On his morning walk, the Professor happened upon two dogs sniffing each other. Apalled, the professor decided to intervene, imploring the animals: “You must allow me to reason with you!’”
My favorite musical and lyrical moment is in the song “Peace in That”—as the hero of the story is “plummeting towards death” he sings his praise to the Almighty “You are the only one, to us the only one.” Definitely one of my favorite rock praise moments ever!
I am a sucker for cool packaging—and this project has some of the coolest. A nifty colorful cartoon cover with lyrics and a store called “The Paradise of the Desert Fathers” make the project well worth the shekels. Spend some time in the wilderness with The Desert Fathers, you’ll feel refreshed and a bit odd afterwards. In a good way!
Buy it here: http://www.threespheres.com
See them here: http://www.thedesertfathers.com (You MUST see the hilarious opening page)
Barry Nothstine 4/12/2004