Recently, my second album got a re-release on Tomorrow Entertainment Records’ label. So for this post, I’ll go track-by-track through the album and talk about what audio samples or stories went into each song. They often have a fascinating history that was a delight to experience. If you’ve yet to listen to my album, you can do so on Bandcamp or on my SoundCloud.
Late last summer, I released an album called “Analog Resurrection” that I created using thrift store vinyls, VHS tapes, and old cassettes I found in my grandparents’ house. All of these vinyls and tapes had some type of religious message contained on analog technology — hence the name “Analog Resurrection.”
The goal of this album is actually not to give some kind of blanket theological endorsement of what every cassette claims or even what is mentioned in each song. Rather, I just wanted to look back and have a kind of experience with evangelicalism before the digital age — to ‘hear their ghosts.’
(Track 1) “w a l l s”
Can you keep a secret? This song was not actually taken from a cassette or vinyl. The original song I sampled is “Tearin’ Down the Walls” by Michael W. Smith on his third album, The Big Picture (1986). However(!), this song does come from the ‘cassette age,’ so it’s (kinda) justified.
The first thing to come to mind with this song was my favorite Veggietales episode: “Josh and the Big Wall.” Thus, I wanted to combine the two, so I included some audio samples from Veggietales as the song’s outro. The noise heard in the background while Bob talks is the sound of a VCR rewinding a tape.
Beyond that, I actually made a music video for this song with clips from the original show that I edited to make it more a e s t h e t i c. Is it the best video? No, but I had fun making it.
Track 2. “s i l l y _ s o n g s”
This song starts with perhaps the most iconic feature of Veggietales: silly songs with Larry. For some reason, I thought it would be funny if Larry were to sing death metal. The featured audio sample is “Burden in Your Hands” by Underoath.
The main song features filtered, vaporwave-ed samples from “For You” by Michael W. Smith on his album Go West Young Man (1990). The transition noise between Veggietales/Underoath and Smith is the sound of my actual cassette tape deck rewinding a tape.
The background noise you can hear through the song is a field recording of a real church lobby. One Sunday, I just walked through the hall of a large church and recorded the sound. I kinda like the mixture between the now out-of-vogue, warped Smith song with the sounds of a contemporary church congregation. A superficial dichotomy not likely to impress anyone, but fun nonetheless.
(Track 3) “s i n”
This song was probably the most fun for me to create.
We are first given the sound of my cassette tape rewinding. I used it in the previous song, and in several more on this album. I’m sure some people didn’t like it, but I love the sound of a reverberated cassette deck. Given that this album had the theme of analogy technology, I wanted to use that sound as ‘white noise’ and background ambience. It also, in my opinion, conveys a sense of nostalgia.
The other sound featured in the introduction is a sound effect from Bibleman: Breaking the Bonds of Disobedient. What sound effect you ask? ‘Disobedient germs’ used to infect Bibleman and make him forsake God’s commandments (like reading your Bible every day).
We then are met with a voice telling us about the importance of teaching and conveying godly standards to your children. This is taken from an audio cassette that I found in my grandparents’ house called Hope for the Home. Fun fact: I’m actually related to the man speaking. He is married to my mother’s cousin. A weak connection, yes, but I’ve met the guy a few times. The cassette was a recorded conversation between three ministers/Christian psychologists talking about how to be godly parents. It even came with a booklet that my grandparents still had. Here is a picture of my authentic copy and the original cassette:
The primary song I sampled is an old gospel hymn, “There’s Just Something About That Name.” I’m actually not a fan of this genre of music — well, at least the not way white people do it (the African American/Black church would dominates this genre, and it’s great). However, I enjoyed this simple little melody. In fact, I think a type of slow and jazzy, progressive rock-esque cover of this song would be dope.
I found the song on a bootleg mixtape that my grandparents owned. Bootlegs and mixtapes were such a cool staple of analogy technology — particularly of tapes — that I wanted to be sure to include them in my album. Sure, we have file shares now or downloading mp3s from Youtube, but nothing is quite the same as recording directly from the radio or television onto a physical tape.
The audio clips you hear come from the same Bibleman episode. It’s a story about Bibleman struggling in his commitment to God. In the original episode, he regains his faith. My song, however, leaves him in his struggle. Oops.
You can watch the full, original episode here:
(Track 4) “f i l l _ m e”
Admittedly, there isn’t much to this song for me to discuss. It features more cassette noise, an introduction from a recorded sermon, and an old gospel song from a cassette series called Faith Center put out by One Way Ministries. I’ve tried looking for this series online, but I can’t find it anywhere (if you have more info, let me know). According to the information on the tape, this series was produced by One Way Ministries in Oregon. The particular track sampled in my song is “Fill Me” from the We Will Rejoice edition of the series.
If you grew up in the era of cassettes and CD’s before Napster and iTunes, you will perhaps remember being bombarded with commercials for various series featuring one genre of music. E.g., best love songs, best hair metal, best classic rock, all of Boyz II Men, etc. As one might expect, they made these for religious music as well. The most popular was the Songs 4 Worship series (part of which I own). Faith Center is similar, but features songs that would appeal to an older demographic.
Here’s an authentic commercial of what I’m talking about.
(Track 5) “p r e s e n c e”
First, we hear a man introduce a woman speaker, who is then greeted by applause. This is a clip from a recorded sermon at Bethesda Community Church in Fort Worth, Texas in 1992.
Then, we are taken into a droned and reverberated piano introduction to the song “Here in Your Presence” with cassette noise in the background. This section is my favorite of the song. I love electro-acoustic and lowercase music, and this little instrumental piece gave me similar feelings to those genres.
We are then thrust into a less-droned-out sample of the song “Here in Your Presence.” Let’s be honest. The male singer has got some serious vocal pipes. He’s busting out notes as if the fate of humanity depends on this song performance.
The outro prayer comes from the Hope for the Home cassette that I’ve already talked about.
(Track 6) “b r e a t h e”
We begin the song with this album’s signature cassette rewinding (I was really into that sound when making this album haha). What follows is an edited selection from a “healing service” recording I found in my grandparent’s house.
For those of you who do not know, a healing service is a type of church service practiced by Christians. A particular church community will come together and petition God to heal the sick or injured in their own community. Different denominations carry out these meetings in different ways. Some might be more liturgical (e.g., the whole church will read Bible verses and famous prayers together). Others might be more ‘praise’ centered with music and singing.
The most intense type of healing service is probably within the Pentecostal/charismatic branch of Christianity. This denomination places a lot of importance on highly passionate emotional expressions, and deep religious experiences, including glossolalia (‘speaking in tongues’) and being ‘slain’ in the Spirit (a type of religiously-induced fainting to achieve a mystical and transcendent state… I think).
The healing service featured in this song is from a Pentecostal branch (I think of the Assemblies of God denomination). The pastor had just finished a brief sermon about keeping God as one’s highest focus of love. During the audio portion that you hear, the band is playing “Breathe” written by Marie Barnett and helped popularized through the likes of Michael W. Smith and Rebecca St James. This was extremely nostalgic for me to hear this song in a congregation because it was insanely popular through 2001, and I grew up singing it in church when I was young.
(Track 7) “m o t i o n s”
This song samples a vaporwave-ed rendition of Michael W. Smith’s song “Goin’ Thru the Motions” from The Big Picture. Same scenario, objections, and rebuttal apply here as they did for my entry on “w a l l s.”
The interruptions come from the Hope for the Home cassette already talked about. During the section I sampled, they were talking about their belief that one must first have a proper love of oneself in order to give that same love to others. They believe this self-love comes through a contemplation on divine love toward human beings.
(Track 8) “d e s p e r a t e”
The introduction of this song features a slowed-down, drone-like edit of a piano instrumental from this cassette:
We are then thrown into the middle of what is actually a rather sad story hidden in the album. At around the one minute mark, we hear Pastor George praying for a man’s kidney. This is taken from the healing service cassette I mentioned on track 6.
A dedicated member of the congregation– and dear friend of the pastor — had come down with a serious kidney disease (cancer or something similar). Before the prayer, the pastor was desperately asking if there would be anyone in the audience who would consider getting tested to donate a kidney to help save this man’s life. Apparently, a member of his own family had already donating a kidney to someone else in the congregation. The audio clip we hear is at the end of the plea, when the pastor is having the entire church pray for his friend to be divinely healed or to receive a donor.
Throughout the service’s recording, the desperation of the pastor is palpable and appears sincere. I’ve yet to look this guy up, so maybe he’s corrupt or dishonest. Nonetheless, I did feel a lot of solidarity with his desperation (despite our religious differences). There are plenty of people I know and love that I wish could be healed. Hearing someone else’s struggle with this issue was nearly cathartic.
The song ends with a cut to part of the church’s worship set in which they are singing “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”
I’ll unfortunately never know what happened to the man with the kidney disease.
(Track 9) “j e s u s”
For this track, I moved away from the cassette tape noise, and used a vinyl from the thrift store.
The spoken portions come from this vinyl. On side-A, Melvin Munn gives a short summary of Jesus’ life. Side-B is Munn’s reading of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) in the King James Version. It was an interesting little find.
The song accompanying this reading is from the bootleg cassette I mentioned earlier in track 3.
(Track 10) “t h e _ w i l l i e s”
This is the second song created using a thrift store vinyl (both were found on the same day). It is a special live performance of Keith Green — Christian singer during the 70s, influential in the start of contemporary Christian music.
As Green plays the piano and talks to the audience, he mentions about how before he converted, he found Christians to be rather weird. Or, in his words, they gave him “the willies.” I was delighted he said that for two reasons. First, he sounds totally adorable saying it. Second, it gave me an opportunity to use something from what is definitely the best cassette in my collection: “How to Put the Snuggle in the Struggle.” Yes, this is a real thing that was made unironically. It is a lecture/sermon given by someone from the “Peacemakers” company. Unfortunately, I don’t know when this was released.
If you grew up in church — or even had the slightest interaction with Christianity — then you’ve had to put up with a lot of corny and cringy stuff (which is why this blog exists). Pastors love to use cheesy phrases, and one must endure if he or she attends church regularly. A couple of notable examples I’ve heard are: “What does justified mean? It means ‘just as if I’d’ never sinned.” Also, “We need to learn how to put the ‘fun’ back into ‘dysfunctional.'” And one Sunday back in high school, there were several adults dressed in cheap Halloween costumes of famous Pixar characters for a sermon series about biblical truths in Pixar movies. You just gotta roll with the punches.
Cheesy pastor one-liners are the religious version of dad jokes. And “How to Put the Snuggle in the Struggle” is a wonderfully corny entry.
The song also includes the outro from the Hope for the Home cassette. This is followed by a live field recording I made of the organ music at the end of a church service (same congregation from the previous field recording. I think it was the same Sunday also). We are then left with, once again, the sound of a cassette tape rewinding.
I’ll admit that I’m not the greatest music producer. There are flaws to this album that I don’t even know how to fix. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun listening to each cassette or vinyl and thinking about how I could turn it into something new. I hope you enjoyed it.
Do you have any interesting ‘lost relics’ of the analog age? Which one of the cassettes I mentioned sound the most interesting to you? Did these stories make you recall any memories from your own childhood? Let me know in the comments.
If you’d like to experience more of this album, there is a full visual experience video on Youtube that contains all of the audio tracks along with retro church footage from the 80s and 90s.