Though they consider themselves a worship outfit, maybe a better definition would be post-worship (strictly speaking about the genre), modern-meditative music composers. Why is this important? Worship has a deep and long tradition in meditation. Meditative music, chant, even the chanting of the Psalms has been used for as long as people have gathered to worship our great God. Somehow, in the past half a century, this practice has significantly diminished. Claiming back some of that territory that rightfully belongs to us, Asaph is the freshest sound in the worship landscape. Meditation is about listening. It is about hitting pause on the noise soundtrack that fills our days and nights. It is quieting our hearts and minds and bodies, so that the Spirit of God can fill the space with the vapor of his presence—the whisper of his Word.
So what exactly does culturally relevant, modern meditation music sound like? In a response to the last decade of worship music, Asaph is post-guitar-heavy, post-quick-run-to the chorus and bridge, and post anthem-pop. It is filled with slow broiling atmospheric meditations that also work as desperate cries of the soul and a musicality that drifts like a mist and coalesces into rich dynamics as well as sweet subtleties through diaphanous guitar tones and the consistent forward motion courtesy of the beating drum. Asaph is both elaborate and simple. It is haunting and shimmering, plaintive and celebratory; it is a convergence of the cacophony of worship spanning the full spectrum of our spiritual heart cries while pointing us in a single direction—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The album begins with the cry of Israel and the cry of the Church today that is longing for the advent of our Lord, “Oh my soul take heart, the day is coming” (“Take Heart”) and moves slowly into the powerful “The Nearness of You,” which is built on the spiritual narrative of the lost lamb, but finds the frufilment of all God’s promises in the single equity that is of any worth: the nearness of the living God. The third standout, “The Fire and the Flood” spins the refiner’s fire theme into a fresh metaphor and powerful statement: “Oh bring the fire / burn what isn’t you / Oh bring the flood / overwhelm us.”
Loud Harp is Asher Seevinck & Dave Wilton, but you wouldn’t know it. This indie duo has accomplished a remarkable thing here: presented songs of the Spirit that musically and lyrically mediate Christ. Of course this is the goal of any worship musician; however, Asaph has accomplished this task as clearly as any other worship record this year. Definitely one of our favorites of 2014.
Sounds like: Peter Gabriel (more “Red Rain” than “Sledgehammer”) finding a voice in atmospheric sounds and guitar instrumental meditations.
Most Singable: “Take Heart”
Strongest Biblical Content: “I Lift My Eyes” (Psalm 21)
The Whole Package: “The Nearness of You”