The ember days
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The ember days

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Sometime a band arrives on the New Zealand music scene with fanfare and a flourish, but too often, that's all that ever happens: a lot of talk, maybe one memorable tune and then the band fades into oblivion. The Ember Days have flipped the script and emerged relatively quietly, but they are a competent, camptivating band - one that looks set to last longer than any fanfare.

There's an air of mystery around The Ember Days. They formed in early 2006 when frontmand Jason Belcher, one of three lead vocalists in the band, brought them together, 'I've been in bands before and we tried hard,' he says, 'but it didn't feel right. my wife and I came back from the States. I'd been at Bible Coleege and I felt passionatley about worship music-that if I was going to be in a band, it has to be God-focused.'

Seemingly out of obscurity, The Ember Days, Jason on vocals and guitar, his wife Janell on vocals and keys, Elliot Norton on vocals and guitar, bassist Tim Peters and newest member Joel Bremner on drums, surfaced with a complete album this year, Your Eyes Light Up. Recorded in Parachute Studios with the help of Evan Cooper (Season Pass), their decision to introduce themselves on record rather than on tour seems to be a winner-the album is all class.

For a debut, their sensitivity and sensibility about what to include is remarkable. Produced by Jason, Elliot and Evan, the three of them sculpt the songs into individual voyages that come together well as a whole journey. Opener, 'A drop of Blood' is a great example. Pulsing verses, majestic choruses, you're carried away immediately.

Their sound is at times like a soundtrack to a blockbuster film, larger than life, all encompassing like a broad soundscape. But there are calms within the storm, deft touches of ethereal moments where you're left to ponder and adore. This is a worship album after all, but refreshingly, not in the mould you've come to expect.

The underlying humility in their lyrics in endearing also. Psalm-like in their vulnerability and openness, songs like 'Chasing the Wind', 'Without You' and 'Silence' (parts of which are anything but silent!) are soul-bearing accounts of a person coming to God, wanting to offer up all that they can to him. 'All My Days' and "Love Song" are mellow songs of praise, the former being as close as this album gets to a 'standard' worship song.

'We're passionate about unity in the body of Christ, that whole John 17 thing, serving the church,' Jason explains, 'as well as that, we want to bring worship music, and take God's presence into unlikely places, make a life of worship relevant to non-Christians too.'

Strange as it may seem, it appears it's doable. During a recent tour of the South Island, The Ember Days wer just as comfortable bring their open worship rock to a pub setting as they were on the Big Stage at the Samstock Festival. 'Put it this way,' Jason sums up, 'our music is dead without God in it.'

Their bio reads, ' We want to speak the truth, love people, and see the body of Christ united. We play songs about God, people, love and life ... but mostly about God.' They do so unashamedly, passionately and with quality music. Get a hold of the album and check them out live. - War Cry Magazine


The Ember Days


In my job, I listen to a lot of music and because of that, a lot of music bores me to tears. No longer am I satisfied with music that follows the "radio rules"... catchy hooks, into the hook quickly blah blah blah. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy most of what we play and I am certainly a radio junky and a self confessed radio surfer whenever I have my finger close to the channel surfing button. I get into the songs, but they generally have a fairly short shelf life for me, so I'm fairly difficult to excite when it comes to albums. There's a whole raft of stuff that I like and am happy to have playing in the background whilst I go about life, but wouldn't be willing to spend money on and wouldn't absolutely rave about.

The other week I discovered NZ band The Ember Days though, and their album Your Eyes Light Up..... oh my goodness!!!! Check some of their sound out at their myspace page. The four songs on their myspace page represent the shifts of sound on their album quite nicely.

The Ember Days are a young 5 piece band who are part of the Someone Up There Records musical stable, linked to Pure Entertainment and Kickstart Records.... a hardworking group showcasing an ever growing group of exciting and hardworking NZ artists.

Let's be honest, the album isn't designed to get a whole bunch of singles on the air, but the album works as a seamless whole from beginning to end moving through different sounds and feels. More than one lead vocal is used and each impresses me. I especially love the female vocal of Janell. She has a Leigh Nash feel about her voice, but without the really girly sound about it. I'm happy Janell's vocal doesn't dominate the album though, as allowing the guys (Jason and Elliot) to step up, provides other layers that keep me intrigued.

It's an album that moves between emo, classic worship styles and the ethereal feel of experimental bands like Sigur Ros without ever feeling like the transition is unnatural. A perfect example is the shift used to get from The Bride (track 4), which has a fairly big ending and utilises a male vocal, into Cocoon (track 6), a beautiful song which builds perfectly, utilizing the female vocal. The transition is accomplished perfectly by using a moment of silence and a wind up musical toy playing Away in a Manger.... with your eyes closed and no other noise, it's breath-taking.

All up it's a musical expression of worship, but very far removed from the Hillsong formula and offering something fresh and exciting. I'm excited.

I'm yet to see them perform live but I've heard they are magnificent and certainly worth the effort.

Whilst we may not be playing any singles from the album on ((Life FM)) yet, I'm happy to fully endorse these peeps and I would sincerely encourage you to buy the album. It's available at the CD and DVD Store, Manna Christian books stores and online at Amplifier.

... by the way, an album will always be a winner when it has a song that shares the name of my little girl, Selah, and isn't naff. Check out the song pair on the album Silence/Selah. The two songs work together and if you let yourself immerse in the duo, it will blow you away! - Frank @ Life Fm


Discography

"Your Eyes Light Up"
Recorded April/May 07
1. A Drop of Blood
2. Silence
3. Selah
4. The Bride
5. Interlude
6. Cocoon
7. All My Days
8. Without You
9. Yeshua
10. Love Song
11. Chasing The Wind
12. Dreaming
13. Your Eyes Light up
14. Holding On

Photos

Bio

The eclectic sound of the newest band to hit airwaves combines rock, ambient sounds and cinematic themes, all in the one package – The Ember Days released its debut album, Your eyes light up in September 2007.

Wanting not only to write good music, but to write good music they were passionate about, that also conveyed their love for God was how this project came about. Forming only just a year and a half before releasing their full length album, The Ember Days was first a vision for Jason ( lead vocals – guitar). He and his wife Janell (lead vocals and keys) moved from the states to New Zealand to begin assembling the rest of the band. Tim Peters (bass) joined up first followed by Elliot Norton (lead vocals – guitar). The band started practicing and writing songs without a drummer for quite some time. A few drummers filled in here and there, but eventually the “want add” made its way to Myspace where Joel Bremner (drums) fit the job description, thus creating a full band ready for action.

The name itself came as a winning result in a “paper rock scissors” game at their first ever show together. The Ember Days was an ancient Church tradition that set aside three days every season for prayer and fasting.

Their music however is quite opposite to the chance of a silly game. The album, Your Eyes Light Up is an album that moves between ambient sounds, driving guitars, and melodic piano pieces, not to mention with three lead singers, four songwriters and influences from Sigur Ros to Thrice, the sound is destined to vary from song to song.

The Ember Days toured New Zealand in late 2007 putting such festivals as Sam Stock, and Parachute under their belts along with numerous bars, clubs, and churches. This is just the beginning for the young quintet as they head to America in the summer of 2008 only adding to their rapidly growing fan base across the world.