After releasing their 2008 album Ancient Skies, the Michael Gungor Band dropped the Michael and the Band and decided to simply be called Gungor. Their first offering under the simplified name is 2010’s Beautiful Things, and the album reflects not just a new name but also, according to Michael Gungor, a new approach to worship music for the band. He said, “If leading worship is just about bringing a group of people into a room so we can get goosebumps and sing songs together, there’s not much value in that. But if leading worship is a means to an end, that we leave this place as a different kind of people, as part of a new humanity that God wants to create... then that matters.”
Michael Gungor describes Gungor’s music as “liturgical post-rock”, which he says is written for and works in a corporate worship setting. The sentiments of Beautiful Things swing from “these dry bones cry for you” to “you make beautiful things out of the dust,” and they are soundtracked by instruments ranging from electronic guitars and banjo, to toy piano and drums. Gungor himself admits, “Musically, it’s kind of odd... we rock pretty hard, then we pull out the banjo and sit around and cry together.” But whatever direction each song takes musically, the subject remains the same, and that is the God who can “make beautiful things out of us.” God and beauty are the two main themes of Beautiful Things, and Gungor is wise to include a song, “Late Have I Loved You,” which quotes Augustine, showing how inseparable God and beauty truly are.
The aforementioned question about worship music though, which seems to background Gungor’s music, is one that needs to be asked. What is the end of worship music? Heck, what is “worship music,” and what should it sound like? The band formerly known as Michael Gungor is working toward an answer, and they’re putting it out there hoping we’ll give it a listen. So lend your ear, please do, but don’t surrender the questions in the process.
- Ben Dixon