My Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
Last Friday, Chris Quilala achieved the distinction of solo recording artist with the release of Split The Sky, his debut solo project. A worship leader at a local Sacramento church, Quilala has been an integral part of the Jesus Culture Movement, which originated in 1999. Jesus Culture’s primary goal is to create music that brings people to experience encounters with God. In addition, they cultivate worship leaders and help develop young artists to continue to bring music to the next generation. Since their first album in 2005, Jesus Culture has created and released many live worship albums, as well as many solo artist projects. The most recent of these projects, Split The Sky contains 12 tracks featuring Quilala’s vocals over a distinct and signature style of synthesized and futuristic melodies.
Split The Sky is truly set apart by its unique, unconventional sound. Some tracks, such as “After My Heart” have a retro pop sound that transports you back in time. Alternatively, songs like “Welcome Here” feature a futuristic and outer space-like whirling of synthesized notes. Despite this contrast, both songs have good messages we need to hear. Quilala shares the promise that God will never stop seeking or pursuing us, as well as encouraging us to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives. No matter the retro or futuristic style, all tracks feature skilled lead vocals by Quilala and some degree of synthesized accompaniment.
In “Surrendered,” Quilala collaborates with artist Kari Jobe, well-known for recent powerful hits like “I Am Not Alone” and “Forever.” This beautiful duet starts simply with piano-like accompaniment, as the two intertwined voices join for the first chorus in perfect harmony. Jobe carries the second verse by herself while the beat kicks in. As the song continues to develop, the two artists’ voices, the synthesized accompaniment, and the percussive beat play on in varied combination, providing moments of outward worship alongside moments of inward reflection. The lyrics express that God is all we need, inspiring a desire in us to lay our lives before God and give him everything we have.
Great congregational worship anthems can be found in tracks like “All To You.” The catchy melody immediately draws in the listener at the song’s introduction. As the songs builds, synthesized tones rise with passion and complexity of accompaniment. At times, this accompaniment is stripped away, leaving moments of calm and chorded praise, proclaiming we want to give every aspect of our lives to God. Another of these anthems, “Because Of Your Love” is slowed, reflective, and accompanied at times by a staccato synthesized beat and an inviting groove. The synthesizer almost entirely drops out in the end as Quilala openly sings out one last phrase. The root of this song’s message is the truth that because of God’s love, we are forgiven, rescued, free, and given eternity with Him.
Split The Sky is a completely new experience in contemporary Christian music. Its synthesized framework and style have the ability to reach and appeal to a whole new group of listeners, while the lyrics share messages of praise and thanksgiving for the incredible things possible with God. With this album, Quilala has definitely achieved the overall goal he desires as part of the Jesus Culture Movement, creating new opportunities for people to have impactful encounters with God.