Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chase The Devil: Spiritual Roots Music

I'm usually a bit skittish of "interfaith" music projects. I understand their appeal from a "we can sing together so we can live together' perspective (and we could sure use more singing together and living together), I often find the musical output pretty vapid. The attempts usually squeeze out everything interesting about either faith, or the faith's music, to show that our most basic we're all pretty insubstantial and boring.

Enter vocalist Dean Bowman and guitarist Gary Lucas of "Chase the Devil" who are neither insubstantial or boring. Lucas and Bowman are both veteran musicians with a stack of recordings each. Some of Lucas' Jewish music highlights have included the silent film soundtrack for the 1920's silent film "The Golem" and two Radical Jewish Culture albums "Busy Being Born" and "Street of Lost Brothers." On his previous Jewish albums, Lucas has consistently been able to merge Jewish folk, klezmer, and liturgical music with his own gritty roots and jazz based sound. In Chase the Devil, Lucas and Bowman add Christian gospel and Muslim quawwali music and push them for all their worth. The result is a vital and glorious mess, where the styles bounce, collide and weave through each other, all held together by the deep reverence of Bowmans voice.

From a reasonable distance, this kind of collision must be what we sound like to God. Now we get to hear it close up.

Chase The Devil (Gary Lucas & Dean Bowman) "HINE MA TOV"

Ok...I chose the Hine Ma Tov video because a) it was available and excellent and b) it's very Jewish. I have to say, though, that the gospel influenced "God is a Good God" on their MySpace page is also superb. The video was recorded live at Eldridge Street Synagogue, New York City, in February 25, 2009. It's worth noting that Hine Ma Tov means "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony." A great statement in general, and perfectly fitting in this context.

For more info, see their MySpace page, Dean Bowman and Gary Lucas personal websites, and a a recent interview by Tablet magazine.

Hat Tip to YouTube user AlexJacobwitz for posting the video and Tablet magazine for the review.

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