Reviewed by Allan Clare
Let me say it straightaway: this album is STUNNING. David Ruis has always been one of the Vineyard churches most talented worship leaders and he is, as he comments in the sleevenotes, "in a band. . .finally". The results are amazing. The band is Indigika - Bob Hartry on guitars, Jonathan Ahrens on bass and Doug Mathews on drums, and the 13 tracks were recorded live over three days last May at The Loft in California. This means the inherent rawness of Ruis's rock sound has been left alone (unlike, say, the clean and polished electronic guitar sound of 'Sweet Mercies', his 1997 studio produced solo album). The cover blurb talks of how Indigika is "the fusion of acoustic and indigenous with the loops and swirls of the electronic age. . ." but apart from a couple of house music 4/4 rhythms and the odd burbling acid bass on a couple of tracks, what we have is an excellent rock album, in the vein of U2 or Coldplay, which showcases quality musicianship, songwriting and anointing. Most of the tracks have been penned specifically for this project (and they've all been penned by Ruis) but the first track, "Fragrant Oil", is from 1998. It's a classic opener - an ethereal, repetitive melody in the background while a ballad of entreaty builds, as in the best U2 ballads, to a guitar-driven climax as Ruis sings "Over You" - "It's spilling over me/Let Your fragrance fill this house." Many of the tracks move into a spontaneous time of praying, praising or declaring truths about God (much like 'Sweet Mercies' did) and most tracks are between five and eight minutes long, with "By Your Blood" clocking in at nine and half minutes. There is some wonderful guitar work on this track, with an electric guitar refrain of only four chords that is simply striking and Ruis proclaiming that there is "a blood that is stronger than the blood soaked on Iraqi soil today." The nine minutes of "Amen" have the lines, "He took on flesh/To bear our sin/Embraced the cross/And he rose again" - and these words (which we often think of as the most basic of worship song lyrics,) are, in this haunting and other worldly ballad, invested with the power of truth they contain. Ruis's vocals have never sounded better than on this track. The album is a wonderful combination of rock music, worship, spontaneous praise and prophesying - Kevin Prosch meets Pink Floyd. Other highlights on a consistently excellent set of tracks are "Rest In His Promise", similar in sentiment to Matt Redman's "Blessed Be Your Name", where Ruis sings "I will lift up my eyes/And give glory to Your name. . . When the sun's brightly shining. . .When the sunlight has faded." A masterpiece of modern rock worship and an album I'll be replaying for a long, long time.
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