Deep House, Deep Worship

Thursday 9th February 2006

Dance music aggregation AORTA are fusing dance music rhythms with creative worship. Tony Cummings reports.

Deep House, Deep Worship

With their storming "Love Hope Future" track currently causing much listener interest on the Cross Rhythms playlist, now seemed like a good moment to quiz Worthing-based Aorta about their music. I pitched some questions at one-time Youth For Christ worker Ben Jack about the rise of this exciting new dance music ministry.

Tony: Can you give us a history of Aorta so far?

Ben Jack: Aorta were formed in the summer of 2001 by myself and Si (Simon Dayman), off the back of working for British Youth For Christ. In 2004, producer Andy Searle Barnes joined us, and since then we have been developing the idea of fusing dance music and creative worship together in a way that gives worshippers a fresh approach to engaging with God without alienating non-believers. The result is a mixture of funky and deep house music being spun as people are lead in worship through a mixture of music, visuals and vocals. (Imagine Andy Hunter crossed with Basement Jaxx I think is the best reference I can come up with!)

We really want to blur the lines between clubbing and church and break down the divides between the Christian and secular music scenes. Aorta is all about creating environments and music through which we can facilitate people in engaging with God. The past year has seen loads of exciting activity for Aorta, playing all across the UK in 2005 (including supporting TBC on a 50 date national tour), and culminating in the release of our debut EP 'Love Hope Future'. Dance music label Rubik Records were excited about the project and had been looking to release a house project, and along with Emedia21 we struck up a deal to release the EP last August at Soul Survivor. The EP is a real mix of house music styles with an undercurrent of creative worship. It features guest vocals from Blest (aka ex-thebandwithnoname MC Presha) and up and coming singer/songwriter Shane Beales. The EP also includes a bonus remix from top drum and bass producers Bcee and Lomax that has received airplay from ministry of sound radio, and talks for a secular release on vinyl.

Deep House, Deep Worship

2005 also saw us headline the club venue at Greenbelt on the Saturday night. It really was an amazing night and it was the first time that we had used tracks from the EP in a live setting which was really special. We also had live percussion that night from our good mate Bernie Gardener (Andy Flannagan's band) and Andy was on the visuals. I remember Si starting the first record, and as I looked up into the crowd I was really surprised by the range of different people in the crowd. This was appealing to more than just the clubbing generation. As I lead the worship for the next hour I was just unbelievably blessed by being able to worship God in this way with this group of people. To be able to dance, sing and express praise to our maker is the greatest honour and privilege and everyone was giving it their all. The evening hit a high when about 45 minutes in, we turned the decks off and stood in silence for a moment. I started singing "Our God Is An Awesome God" and instantly everyone was joining in. The dance music was gone for a moment and only voices were ringing out. It was an amazingly spine-tingling moment and then slowly the percussion and the decks came back in and we were going for it again. That is what Aorta is about. We love the dance music, but we are not afraid to come from out behind it. God is bigger than one style of expression, and so whilst we specialise in the dance music stuff, we love to explore other creativity. Aorta has a vision to see worship explored within the Church and the stereotype of worship being an acoustic guitar led sing-a-long challenged.

Post-EP release we are currently writing a book on worship which we hope to have ready for later in the year, that will feature some really great contributors from the Christian world giving their perspective on questions raised by us throughout the book. In addition to finishing the book, we are currently planning a UK tour for June. For more info go to and send us an email if you are interested in booking onto the tour. We are looking to spread our wings beyond the UK with some gigs in Europe and America (particularly New York where Andy currently is).

After working at various events over the last few years it led a member of one of the top current Christian bands to comment that Aorta were "probably one of the best known groups on the circuit that no one has ever heard of!" 2006 is going to be a really exciting year for us. We really feel that God is opening doors for us all over, but also closing a few here and there. We just want to follow him wherever he wants to take us.

Tony: What happens with Aorta while Andy's in New York?

Deep House, Deep Worship

Ben: Andy is currently in New York working with Times Square Church. He felt God was calling him out there for this year and me and Si knew that it was right too. The beauty of modern technology and communication means Aorta works very much the same as it did before. We can work on new material over the web, and we are carrying on gigging without him for now, but look forward to his return in July!

Tony: Were you surprised that "Love Hope Future" has made it to the Cross Rhythms playlist? We review/audition about 1,500 albums a year so to make it to the A list is quite a feat.

Ben: It's been great to get playlisted by Cross Rhythms because we really want people to hear the music and catch onto the vibe of what we are doing. It is a really nice surprise and in a way it's continued affirmation that we are following the path God wants us to which is awesome.

Tony: Any plans for more releases?

Ben: We have started work on a full album which is coming along really well, but I don't think we are going to rush anything. We want to make the best record that we possibly can, work with some really great people and release a record which means something, is something of value in an arguably overcrowded worship music market. We are thinking about releasing an internet only single though, maybe to tie into the tour in June, and releasing a track from 'Love Hope Future' on vinyl, so watch this space!  CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by dave griff in bournemouth @ 17:45 on Feb 13 2006

These guys should be congratulated for thinking through alternative styles of music for worship. We need more people like these who are pushing back the trite conceptions of worship music in the church at large.

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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