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THE LISTENING EP (2004)
The Listening - Click to view!The art of listening has diminished in our ADD-society of channel-flippers and MP3-player addicts. But the ability to listen-to pause and reflect-needs to be embraced once again. The artwork of The Rock 'n' Roll Worship Circus' newest project shows a blurred white image underneath the CD, with the question, "did you hear that?" Not only must the listening take place, but also the question and evaluation of what one hears must be digested and discussed. This is especially true when it comes to listening for God's voice. It's not a natural listening for car horns and beeping cell phones, but a deeper soul-search, as another piece of the CD artwork reveals: "May these things which are hidden from our eyes be revealed to our souls." The Rock 'n' Roll Worship Circus seeks this revelation, and The Listening EP is one byproduct of such a search.

The band's search has taken them to embrace new musicians and new sounds. Prodigy guitarist Solo Greely reins in lead lines with the ease of cutting butter. With this forefather returning to the stage, Eric Lemiere leaves guitar and replaces Zurn P. Praxair on drums with a low-key, mellow sense to keeping the beat. And perhaps the greatest addition to the new sound of the Worship Circus is Josiah Sherman. He delivers techno keys in a Pink Floyd style that's hard to miss and completely delightful. Track 1, "Are We Listening," displays Sherman's unique sense of synthesizer programming, establishing the moody emotion that hangs over the entire project.

Once the journey is laid out, we're lead into the song "(Untitled)," a documentation of the listening journey, of seeking Christ and not being able to name your search or your salvation: "Have you climbed to the top of the mountain yet / You walk through the valley of the shadow of death / It's the sound of the man taking a breath / The feeling of the devil beating on your chest / ...You look through the stars, look for His eyes / Find yourself hidden in the Savior's side." It's a non-traditional sense of worship—very distinct from the "Here I Am to Worship" flair. "Dead Man" follows this fresh worship phenomenon and the same moody atmosphere. With other-world/space noise shrouding the movement, lead-singer Gabriel Wilson sings, "He who calls upon His name shall be saved / [...] / He's calling out to save us all / Let the light of Jesus shine on us." "(Untitled)" and "Dead Man" stand as stylistic and thematic bookends to the project.

The Listening EP contains moments where God sings to His creation, and where the band sings to the audience on a horizontal level, urging them to worship the Creator. "Like I Do" is a song from God's point of view. Wilson croons along with a Beatle-ish guitar melody, singing, "I was sittin' on the corner watching you go by / You had your sunshine on, a tear in your eye / If you were close enough you would hear Me / Nobody loves you like I do / So you talk to the different people that you see / You talk to anyone and everyone but Me / If you come over here I would let you know / Nobody loves you like I do." After this rings "The Way That Love is Made," a call from band to audience to walk in love toward one another. The Beatles influence drenches this song almost to oblivion. The strength of this 6-song album lies in the Pink Floyd sounds and all-around reflective and meditative environment.

A more familiar moment of worship culminates in track 3, "I Love the Rain." It begins with light acoustic guitar and soft, filtered vocals in an easy-to-digest tempo, very reminiscent of "We Sing Glory" from their project Welcome to the Rock 'n' Roll Worship Circus. By the middle of the song, the electric guitar, backing vocals and drums kick in to produce a mighty crescendo: "I love the rain / it's like tears are falling from my Father's face / I love the rain / tears from up above / that's my Father's love." For those who look for a more traditional expression of praise, this will be the favorite cut off the album. Yet for those listeners who seek a distinct worship experience with fresh sounds currently uncultivated in the greater CCM world, The Listening EP is a must-have. It is a musical experience that will leave both your ears and soul hungry for more.
- Hollie Stewart
August 2004
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