April 23, 2008

Music Musings: Colour

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Many of you may not have heard of Andy Hunter, but you may be more familiar with his music than you might otherwise believe. Hunter is a British DJ who specializes in techno music, in various forms from electronica to trance. Though he has recorded only two CDs, Exodus and Life, his music has been used in the TV show Alias, video games Need for Speed Underground and Burnout Revenge, the movie The Italian Job and trailers for The Matrix Reloaded, National Treasure and the upcoming Speed Racer.

His new CD, Colour, is just as daring as his previous two. This time around there are more tracks, more lyrically driven songs and far more effects and samples. The result is a slightly more experimental collection of songs that nevertheless feels uncannily similar to his earlier work, but not quite. It is as if he has used his previous form as a coloring book, which he has now filled in completely and masterfully while going outside the lines just a little.

Several songs in this album speak of a God who is present in the world’s every inch and who offers life and transformation to all who choose to walk in His ways. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Hunter’s belief, you can still enjoy the hope and perspective he shows in his work. After all, enjoying music, much like musical criticism in general, tends to be more about the musical quality than the message.

And the quality is there. Hunter uses the term “colour” (or color, for us Americans) to refer to the simultaneous mixture of life and variety. You can see this reflected in his tracks, which contain a diverse collection of musical techno styles and lyrical subject matter. Consider “Together,” a quieter mid-tempo song that breaks into rapturous joy at the end, in which Hunter reflects poetically about the beauty of commitment. Or “Miracle,” a piece about life that uses an underground trance instrumental and a soulful, haunting voice to pull us into an aura of true mystery. Or “Stars,” which that works both as a dance piece and as a joyous song about stars above a city. Somehow all these pieces gel together into an album that is as truly fun as it is reflective.

What makes Hunter’s work particularly refreshing is that it exudes a sense of hope. For him, knowing God results in a passion for living life fully and excellently. It’s no coincidence that “Out of Control,” an exciting electronica dance track with chord changes reminiscent of punk rock, follows “Sapphire,” a beautiful instrumental that paints a picture of entering into heaven (which is appropriate since the title is a reference to the sapphire throne of God). Or that Hunter pauses to reflect on protecting the environment on “System Error,” a complex, fast paced trance-dance instrumental that comes into view when he samples his son saying, “It’s my future”. Or even that he takes time to create a beautiful cover art and CD. You can sense an atmosphere of flashing lights, excitement and joy from track to track.

Colour is now available in stores and on iTunes and is as good a techno album as any I have heard. Particularly recommended for parties, contemplation and nighttime drives.