Many Christians seem to have lost the ability to meditate, and for a few reasons. For one, the very word meditation causes some uneasiness in certain Christian circles, bringing to mind new-age subjectivity and Eastern mysticism. Further, the information saturation and overall busyness of Western culture has contributed to our shrinking attention span. We all have a decreasing ability to dwell on one idea for any length of time, even “action” movies are sometimes described as boring by the chronically desensitized.
So in days like these when meditation has fallen out of practice and has been devalued by the cultural status quo, a meditative aid can be productive to assist us in our attempts to sustain focus on God’s word. God has, after all, recommended this practice as “blessed” (Ps. 1:2, among others).
Asher Graieg-Morrison’s new release Pure Religion serves the church in this critical need, plowing in the same field as artists like Lowercase Noises and Even Oxen. While it would be easy to create a meditative aid that doesn’t serve any purpose besides to curb wandering impulses, Graieg-Morrison’s stellar new release also serves as a solid piece of art on its own.
Graieg-Morrison centers Pure Religion on two passages dealing with religious authenticity. The first is James 1:27, from which the release derives its name. The second is Isaiah 58, which deals with true and false fasting. Pieces of the record feature Asher Graieg-Morrison reading these passages of scripture, and the opening segment of the title track also features his prayer in response to his ruminations.
The two halves of the record—produced to be two sides of a cassette tape—serve as impressionistic renderings of the moods derived from their source text. The first three tracks are filled with droning distortion and post-rock brooding, conveying the sense of urgency found in the opening verses of Isaiah 58. The last two tracks are (mostly) brighter compositions, featuring some delightful piano work and interlacing guitar pieces.
Pure Religion doesn’t aim to provide any profound insights on its biblical texts; instead, it invites us to listen for God’s voice ourselves. While the musical progressions are simple enough to provide a soundtrack a listener’s meditation, they are layered and textured enough to be compelling on their own.
You can stream and purchase Pure Religion by clicking on the album art below.