In recent years Derek Webb has carved out a nice niche for himself as Christian music’s provocative and controversial “voice in the wilderness.” Never one to mince words, he has taken on such issues with his music as Christian consumerism, our unhealthy ties to politics and the church’s attitude about homosexuality. At times his words have seemed almost prophetic in their ability to cut to the heart of what’s lacking in the Christian experience for many believers.
Odd then that he would somehow manage to speak more truth and beauty with Feedback, his latest instrumental record, than he has in any of his prior efforts.
Feedback is, as Webb describes it, “an instrumental electronic album based on the Lord’s prayer.” His first “worship” album.
The album is presented in three movements. Each track takes a particular phrase from Jesus’ prayer with his disciples and interprets it into a musical passage using rich layers of sounds, instruments and electronic effects. The result is a beautiful piece of music that rises and swells with layers of complexity that are best enjoyed as a whole piece rather than in individual tracks. (Not to mention with a big ‘ol pair of high quality headphones.)
While the album is billed as an “electronic” instrumental, it actually finds its strength in the way Webb manages to blend the earthly tones from traditional instruments (guitar, piano,voice, etc.) with some the more abstract and ethereal electronic elements. The two work together as a whole to bring about the sense of Heaven and Earth coming into one, which as the crux of “The Lord’s Prayer” seems entirely appropriate.
Feedback is unlike any “worship” album ever produced. But at this point we’ve come to expect nothing less from Derek Webb. He is an artist who is constantly pushing himself into new and uncharted territory, and we’re all the better for it.
Worship is a complicated idea. Arguably, it’s what we all do, 24 hours a day (regardless of what we’re worshipping). And I’m aware of a lot of “worship product” in the marketplace I sometimes occupy. So I was cautious when I first started receiving the coordinates that would lead me to make ‘Feedback’. It was immediately conceptual and ambitious, so much so that I genuinely wasn’t sure I could do it. But this seemed to be the perfect posture in which to create something worthy of being called a “worshipful” piece of art. So I studied, meditated, struggled and prayed my way through this creative process, and it’s easily the most challenging thing I’ve done in my career. But I believe it’s been worth it, even just for the ways it’s stretched both my creative process and my faith as a follower of the Way. – Derek Webb, Musician
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread – Derek Webb