Mystic Chapel starts with a Prelude called “Journey’s End.” It’s an instrumental guitar song that’s a bit haunting; it feels like a person has been walking a long time through the woods and is finally finding refuge in a building during a rainstorm. Toward the end of the Prelude, a bell rings. What’s inside of this place?
“Come Let Us Worship” follows the Prelude, and it sounds as if you’ve walked into an Irish pub, with fellows singing about the Lord: “Lord have mercy…for thou art God, thou art holy…” It couldn’t be more different than the moody Prelude.
This is Mystic Chapel, an album by Michael Glen Bell and Duane W.H. Arnold, billing themselves and/or their music as “The Project.” Mystic Chapel is relatively quick, clocking in just over half an hour, but the musicians use their time well.
Might it sound odd for me to say their music reminds me of Phil Keaggy meets The Beach Boys? There’s a bit of the surf rock, old hippie sound to songs like “Joyous Light” and “From On High.” This is not today’s corporate American vanilla Coldplay-sounding megachurch music. Nope, this takes you back to a time when guys with guitars started singing in churches that had previously only used organs.
Interestingly, Bell and Arnold are trying to ask the question “What if we still believed?” Mystic Chapel is very religious lyrically, but still accessible to those with no faith or those who feel like they’re “done” with church. It’s a thinking man’s album in a world of vapid and bland albums. It also feels like you’re stepping back in time to a different era for the church, music and the world in general; Maybe you’re just stepping into a literal Mystic Chapel? That’s for you to decide.
If you like guitar music with pleasant harmonies and Anglican/Catholic-style lyrics sung to God, investigate The Project’s Mystic Chapel. –Mark Weber, Christian Music Makers