Isaac Everett | Rotation

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Pop: Quirky Electronic: Electronica Moods: Christian
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Rotation

by Isaac Everett

Blending electronica, rock, jazz, traditional middle eastern, and chamber music with ancient liturgical texts and melodies, Rotation is a fresh expression of urban spirituality.
Genre: Pop: Quirky
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Incarnation
5:41 $0.99
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2. Ministration
3:45 $0.99
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3. Misconception
5:13 $0.99
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4. Preparation
3:18 $0.99
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5. Valediction
3:26 $0.99
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6. Execution
3:53 $0.99
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7. Lamentation
2:18 $0.99
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8. Resurrection
3:34 $0.99
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9. Adoration
6:18 $0.99
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10. Expectation
3:58 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
There's an incredible underground community of hipster Christians in New York City – people who are sophisticated and cosmopolitan while simultaneously spiritual and rooted in the Christian traditions. Although we're looking for something deeper than generic pop music, Nashville-y contemporary Christian music doesn't quite fit us, either. This album is my attempt to express who we are.

The album is roughly based on the liturgical year, the gospel story, and changing of the seasons. It's meant to be a song cycle and, thematically, the last song could also have been the first.

A very eclectic group of musicians worked on this project, although I didn't set outside to mix together so many different styles of music - I'm generally of the opinion that diversity for it's own sake is rather silly. The nature of New York, however, is that many cultures are jam-packed next to each other (it's the only place where you can order Sangria at Chinese restaurants) and it was within this environment that these songs developed. I think it's cool.

The tracks are:

1) Incarnation – this track uses text from the 1st Century Liturgy Of St James, the tune of a 17th Century French Carol, and blends downtempo electronica with middle eastern modes. This tune is a much beloved hymn from several traditions, although it isn't usually done in 7/4. I came up with that myself..

2) Ministration – Mykal brings a great R+B feel to this tune, which is a collaboration between TjSnodgrass and myself.

3) Misconception – Another text from TjSnodgrass, this tune has an intro from Moroccan vocalist and oud player Yoel Ben-Simhon. The Hebrew text is Eliyahu HaNavi, a traditional prayer begging for the return of Elijah and is set in the Arabic mode of khijas. The transition from the intro into the actual tune might be my favorite moment on the album. This song is also notable because it's a fast waltz superimposed over a funky 10/4. Except, of course, for the honky-tonk bridge, which is in four. I included this song because people kept wanting Christ to be Elijah – i.e., being all hardcore with the gentiles, calling down fire from heaven, etc. Even today, people keep trying to turn Christ into a conquering, national symbol, but that's just not what he was about.

4) Preparation – TjSnodgrass read this poem to me during our first phone call years ago, beginning both our collaboration and our friendship. I love the desperation in it, and RC Laird delivers a mind-numbing, bone-crunching vocal rock explosion. I can't believe I just wrote that sentence. It's true, though.

5) Valediction – An incredible poem by Delores Dufner, a sister in the Order of St Benedict, who graciously allowed me to write a new setting for it. Between Katie's gentle flute and Steve's tender finger-picking, this might be the most intimate song on the album.

6) Execution – A metrical version of the 22nd Psalm, written in the 17th Century by Brady and Tate. I wrote this tune for a Palm Sunday service a few years ago, and it's become one of my most well-received songs. The spacey sounds in the background are Steve using a violin bow on his guitar.

7) Lamentation – Giovanni Pergolesi's Stabat Mater is one of my all-time favorite pieces. The traditional Latin text depicts Mary watching the crucifixion, and I love how Pergolesi manages to be emotive and crunchy at the same time. Deanna, who you can hear on Air America Radio, sang this song soaking wet in the middle of a thunderstorm (we had to stop tape every time it thundered). It was magical.

8) Resurrection – Mary and Steve make this 15th Century French Carol rock. I love how it uses nature imagery so effectively, demonstrating that the gospel story, the liturgical year, and the changing seasons are all saying the same thing. This song really can't be listened to quietly.

9) Adoration – If an underground, emergent church band could have a break-away pop hit, this would probably be it. Another French church melody from the 17th Century, the words from this song come from Thomas Aquinas. I really enjoyed stretching out with my jazz chops on this tune.

10) Expectation – Veni, Veni Emmanuel, a 9th Century Latin plainsong, is one of the most overused tunes in existence, yet I still love it. Because it's been done so many times, however, I has a hard time finding a fresh take on it. I ended up mixing the tune with some flute and oboe counterpoint, spending most of the track using the chant as a vehicle for improvisation, and throwing the whole thing over a droning didjeridu. One might expect this song to go at the beginning of the album rather than at the end, but I wanted to emphasize that the world is still a pretty dark, stary place and we're still waiting for deliverance. To me, this song isn't about Advent, it's about right now.

The musicians featured on this album are:
Isaac Everett – piano, keyboards, didjeridu, programming
Yoel Ben-Simhon - oud, vocals (track 3)
Moxie Block - vocals (track 6)
Mary Bragg – vocals (tracks 1, 5, 8, 9, and 10)
Katie Down – flute
Stephen Hoevertsz – electric guitar
RC Laird – vocals (tracks 3 and 4)
Troy Messenger – oboe
Mykal – vocals (track 2)
Deanna Neil – vocals (track 7)

album design and photography by Robert Scott.

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Reviews


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Paul

Recommended -- eclectic, thoughtful and fun
If a jazz pianist trekking with assorted singers wandered into a middle-eastern bazaar run by aborigines, they might all look around, say "cool!", call a jam session and work up something like this. I'm wearing out my copy, and giving copies to friends.
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Anna

Different, somewhat refreshing
I ran across this cd when I searched for the words to an old hymn. Raised with hymns, I found it refreshing to run into an artist (or should I say artists) who recognize(s) the value of the old, wonderful songs, and I appreciate the variety of sound. I\'ve always been intrigued by middle eastern music, and I love the blend in this cd. Most of all I think I appreciate the use of old yet very valuable and applicable songs/poems that otherwise might be lost or forgotten.
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M. Paul Garrett

A wonderfully eclectic conceptual song cycle...sacred but not simpering
This CD album is a wonderfully eclectic conceptual song cycle. The link among the songs is a moving exploration and deep respect for the mystery of Christ.

Deft and original the artistry here owes but little to pop interpretations of Jesus’ life in music, stage or screen. It, fortunately, has no point of contact with either the current praise music of the “Jesus-is-my-buddy” variety or the pretensions of the “MY-god-is-an-awesome god” genre—both of which are always oddly narcissistic. Everett has chosen and coupled original, ancient and traditional lyrics into a series that traces the events of the incarnation, life, ministry, execution and resurrection of Christ along with the response to that that brought into being the church. Thematically, in the music as well as the lyrics, Everett has been content to direct his audience’s attentiveness to Christ rather than asking that audience to devote their attention to the artist.

That said the artistry here is self-evident. From the rough edges of RC Laird to the articulate clarity of Mary Bragg to the earthy warmth of Mykal to the heart break of Moxie Block to the ethereal dubbed duet of Deanna Neal to the haunting Yoel Ben-Simhon the vocals are evocative and incredibly well used.

The instrumentalists’ perform beautifully and provide unique texture to each song that really has to be heard to be appreciated. Although the talent here, as with the vocals, is self-evident both through the manner of performance and in the engineering they achieve a harmonization of sound that allows for the whole to be greater than the sum of the components…as exceptional as those components are. Any one of the artists here could have, arguably, justified a star turn but instead they support each piece and the result is superb. In engineering and concept the production values are well done…thankfully they are not over done.

Musically I really like the way Everett can take a traditional tune and lyric and, through instrumentation and arrangement, turn it into something arresting that allows a new appreciation of what is being presented. Track 10 is an especially fine example as it takes a beloved but perhaps faded by repetition Advent carol and with didjeridu, key board, oboe, flute and piano creates something that asks more of a listener than seasonal sentimentality or a nodding along to sonic wallpaper. In a piece like track 3 the traditional sound of the oud (exotic to many western ears), electric guitar, piano, a Hebrew prayer and an Arabic mode combine to run through transitions from haunting to demanding. It grabs and shakes and won’t let go. (Though it does have an odd honky-tonk bridge that, for me, doesn’t quite fit.)

I buy a fair number of CD’s and I like to find artists I haven’t heard before. This means I buy a lot of CD’s that maybe, just maybe, have one or two tracks that hold my attention or invite my return. This is the first CD in years (and my taste ranges from Celtic, to Afro-pop, to Jazz, to Folk, to Classical and more) that has lived in my player. It’s the first in a long time that keeps me playing through and paying attention to every track every time.

This is a musical journey into the mystery of Christ through the liturgical year. It’s a journey I’m very glad Everett and his friends have invited their listeners to make with them.
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Ann

Fascinating interplay of old and new.
Rotation is a fascinating mix of familiar and exotic music.
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