Have you heard the good news?
I had a bit of trouble sleeping last night - I'm not sure if it's because I overslept for most of the weekend or if my body just couldn't adapt to not being hungover on a Monday, but either way it was a long night. After the third or fourth time of trying to nod off, I gave up. Figuring I'd get a headstart on my day, I grabbed my phone and started browsing the American music blogs. That's when I stumbled across this article on YourEDM about Priests of Beat - a 'catholic EDM' act.
This began what can only be described as an ecclesiastical EDM spiral into the very bowels of what I'm going to refer to as 'ChristianCloud' (although admittedly most of the tracks are from YouTube). Catholic EDM morphed into Christian Dubstep which faded into Jesus Trance and Theological Techno. Buzzing off sleep deprivation, sawtooth synths and devout DJs I clicked related video after related video on my late night pilgrimage.
But as dawn's first rays lit up my room and I realised I'd lost a whole night to holy house music, was I a changed man? Had I seen the light? In a nutshell - no. But it did get me thinking: house heads have always banged on about how "it's a spiritual thing", but if God truly is a DJ, is he any good? Using my newfound knowledge of sacred selectors , I'm going to try and answer that question. Think of this is a pagans guide to pious producers.
Priests of Beat
Lets start of with the big dogs. Priests of Beat are - as far as I can tell - the OG's of the Catholic EDM scene. On their Twitter bio, they describe themselves thus: "Priests of Beat are #EDM musicians who take their music, dance and love of the Father to those in need #GoIrish". At the time of writing they have five original tracks on their SoundCloud page and I've listened to every last one of them. The one above - "Gold'N Glory" is, for me, their standout track. Right from that first bell tower chime and triumphant synth, you know this is a baptismal banger with a capital B. While their other tracks air too much on the Cascada side and come replete with some dodgy dubstep drops, the happy hardcore harmonies in this make it legitimately catchy. This is PC Music for the Priesthood.
Our God is Greater (Chris Tomlin) - Christian Dubstep Remix - BRS
I'm not sure if Chris Tomlin is the singer or the remixer, or both. But anyway this starts off - like so many classic house tracks - with a sample of a preacher, then in come some uplifting strings and finally some Bieber-esque vocals. I'm down with the sample, I'm down with the strings, I'm even sort of down with the vocal, this shows promise right up until 1:58 when the drop comes in and it's an awful bro step bounce. I'm assuming this is American, so maybe their ears have yet to grow tired off that noise, but if they want to spread the good news across the Atlantic, they'd better swap out that drop for some tech house chimes sharpish.
Red Letter Hymnal
Ugh that awful brostep drop again. If there's one thing I've learnt about righteous ravers today it's that they love a devout drop. Red Letter Hymnal pair emo vocals with trance build ups and dreadful dupstep drops and breakdowns. Before the Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites aping bass hits, you could easily believe this was Estonia's Eurovision entry. But after that drop, it's down right blasphemous to music. As with "Our God Is Great" the jarring part of this isn't the 'Christian' bit, it's the 'dubstep' bit.
And now to N Vision. Fun Fact: When you type "christian techno" into YouTube the first result is a mashup of the "Top Ten Christian Electronic / Techno Songs" and N Vision - "Second Coming" is sitting pretty, right there at number one(!) Of all the dance music genres to take on a Christian edge, techno certainly seems the most unlikely. Maybe it's the all black uniform, the fist pumping, the dark rooms, the dark music, the... German, it just seems sort of ungodly. So I was pretty surprisedwhen 'Christian Techno' returned so many results. That is until I listened to a bunch of it and realised it was just turn of the century trance mislabeled as techno. "Second Coming" is a Robert Miles - "Children" knock off for the converted. I had high hopes for N Vision, but no I feel I've been duped. Where the techno at?
So what have I learnt? Well I think that when christian producers stick to the realms of trance it actually works pretty well, after all there's plenty of similar themes in both types of music. It's when they try and make (I presume) edgy music by slapping on a five year old drop that things start to fall apart. I for one can't wait to 2020 when I can hear some theological tropical house. Preach.