Soundoctrine - Source (2015)

Soundoctrine
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Soundoctrine - Source

Those who are not aware of Soundoctrine’s background can be forgiven not knowing this Ohio based outfit performs with Christ at the center and the source of all they do. I don’t know if it would be accurate to call them a Christian band – although I doubt that the members would have a problem with that description. Clearly, the group had their spiritual profession in mind when they titled their latest album Source.

Soundoctrine - Source

Those who are not aware of Soundoctrine’s background can be forgiven not knowing this Ohio based outfit performs with Christ at the center and the source of all they do. I don’t know if it would be accurate to call them a Christian band – although I doubt that the members would have a problem with that description. Clearly, the group had their spiritual profession in mind when they titled their latest album Source.

If there is any lingering confusion about where Soundoctrine falls in relation to other instrumental acts whose work is informed by their faith, it may be due to the fact that Soundoctrine has been an instrumental group for the better part of a decade after starting out as a band that – Incognito style – employed a revolving roster of vocalists including the likes of Marlon Saunders and Nadir. Also, most of their instrumental output consists of originals (there aren’t any instrumental versions of gospel standards such as is typically found on albums by artists such as Kirk Whalum and Ben Tankard), though they might occasionally cover a classic R&B tune such as Rufus and Chaka’s “Stop On By,” which appears on Source.

What becomes clear throughout Source is the quality of the players -- both as soloists and as a group -- as well as the very good songwriting.  Chris “Thumbper” Rhodes displays with his thunderous, rolling bass solo, a dexterity and creativity that will remind many of Stanley Clarke on the mellow “Reconciliation.” The synthy “Absolute Truth” has a spacey quality as the keyboards provide the atmosphere for some energetic horn work and a very funky bass line.

Of course, giving tunes titles such as “Ancient of Days,” “Maranatha,” and “Selah,” Soundoctrine aims to put listeners in a spiritual state of mind even if most of the tracks are instrumentals, while vocal cuts such as the aforementioned “Selah” and the title track make the band’s profession clear. “Source” begins with its sparse arrangement that grows gradually, and the track has the feel of a spiritual lullaby, while Michela Write’s whispered vocals serve as a testament that God is the source our being.  The percussive “Selah” has a far eastern arrangement, allowing the rhythm section to provide a deep groove foundation for an expansive flute solo. Meanwhile, the lyrics tell a story of God’s unchanging nature.

In a way it makes sense that Soundoctrine would title one of their tunes “Selah,” because the meaning of that word is uncertain. Selah appears a total of 74 times in the Bible, with 71 of those appearances coming in the book of Psalms, which was a hymnal to the Israelites. One interpretation of the word is that it means “to pause,” so the instrumentalists and singers would stop performing to take a breath or lift their hands in praise whenever they saw it. And those trying to figure out how to classify this talented group may be wiser to simply pause, listen and enjoy a band that defies categorization even as it proudly raises the banner of Christ. Solidly Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
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