Albums come along from time to time that are truly unique. It’s not often, but when it happens, you know. Something about it resonates with my soul, twists my ear and gives me a new perspective on what music (in this case hip-hop) can be.
It’s the type of album that is so distinct, it causes me to weigh every album in the future against it. It becomes a cornerstone of art and an opulent gem to be treasured. Satellite Kite is this kind of album.
1. Hello From Portland
Rain. That is how Satellite Kite opens up. Rain slowly increasing in volume until the bass line comes in with a soothing soundscape to bring it together. Wait about 1:20 and soft guitar plucking comes into play as well. It’s peaceful, contemplative and soothing, while at the same time, it almost seems life challenging. It seems to ask you “Now that you know, what are you going to do about it.” It reminds me of an ending to an indie film about life and love. It’s real. What an incredible introduction to this album.
2. An Open Letter To Whoever’s Listening
An Open Letter To Whoever’s Listening is certainly a bit of a mood shift from the intro track…but it fits. Furthermore, it gets right to the point of the album. Basically, Thomas and Braille are saying this is what the album is about, this is who it’s directed to and this is why we put it together. The production does a great job of bringing in a deep resonating bass line without overpowering the other instrumental portions of the beat.
Covet is in the same vein of An Open Letter To Whoever’s Listening in regards to a bass line that rumbles without being overpowering. However that’s where the similarities end. This track is much more ethereal and introspective in sound. This sounds like falling asleep inside of a cargo vessel in deep space. A little dark, which is fitting considering the topic of the track. Thomas opens up the track from the perspective of a man who has struggled throughout his life, growing closer to frustration and resulting in the desire to take from others in order to even things out.
Braille brings a verse from the perspective of a man feeling utterly overwhelmed and growing in hopelessness. His life hasn’t amounted to anything or at least that is how he sees it. He wants to give up the fight, but hasn’t reached the edge, just yet.
At 2:51 the whole mood of the beat changes. It seems to become hopeful, understanding and lighter. Thomas and Braille join in harmony in the chorus and the gospel is presented. It’s made clear that we fail, we do evil and we seek our own ways, but God can forgive and change hearts.
4. Take It Easy (Feat. Catalina Bellizzi)
Wow! I’ve never heard Catalina Bellizzi before this and that’s unfortunate. After a little digging I realize that I learned that I have heard Catalina before. She was featured on Humble Beast label mates Alert’s All I See Is Red. Her voice is multilayered, breathy and inviting. The beat comes in slowly, then drops; definitely not what I was expecting, but it’s a nice change of pace. Braille’s delivery on his verse is quick without feeling rushed along. Then back to that incredible breathy chorus…Catalina really has a great voice. Thomas drops his verse with the same (if not more) speed and emphasis as Braille. This is a great change up and concept. Relaxed, laid back chorus, fittingly singing Take It Easy before and after the quick verses presented. Beautiful.
5. The String That Ties Us
Art Azurdia, pastor at Trinity Church of Portland, presents an approachable and easily understandable picture of the Christian as a kite. Even as the Christian here is represented as a kite, true Christian love is portrayed as the string that keeps us grounded. The very thing that seems the most restraining, is that which provides our very functionality. The bible says in 1 Corinthians 13, without love we are nothing. Without love, we are nothing but a clanging cymbal; a loud annoyance.
Beautiful Eulogy takes a much needed stab at the sense of entitlement that is cripplingly present in the world, but especially that of Americans. Many, if not most of us are raised to believe that the purpose of our lives is to acquire wealth, possessions and control. When in all truth, that is a polar opposite to why we are created. We exist, not to possess things or power but rather to bring glory to God. If approached correctly, we see that our lives are contrary to God’s will and “in the end, we need grace instead.”
“Worshiping Idols to fulfill our entitlement issues”
7. Anchor (Feat. Josh Garrels)
Anchor opens with Josh Garrels singing the hook. I have been following Josh Garrels catalog for a few years and every new album (or single) he puts out is of the utmost quality and ultimately focused on glorifying God. This is certainly no exception to that rule and Josh’s style closely aligns itself with this track and the focus of Beautiful Eulogy to create high-quality worshipful music. As the track progresses Josh’s voice becomes increasingly more haunting and closes the track in a somber, yet peaceful tone.
“When it’s a quarter past midnight and the grey skies fade to black, the waves splash and set me off track. So, my vessel might crash or collapse when I’m attacked and start wrestlin in my head with these bad memories from my past. I’m aware of my guilt, overwhelmed and the smell of my blood has the sharks that surround me cast under a spell. They waited for me to fall, but when I fell the water got still and the blood that was spilt protects me. It’s the same blood that cleansed me.” – Braille
The concept of this song comes from Hebrews 6:13-20 (specifically verse 19) where we see that the hope of our soul is anchored in the finished work/promises of God in Christ. This is my favorite track on the album, even if only by a small margin, considering the lyrical and doctrinal content afforded to us on this album.
“At some point, every human looks right in the eyes of agony and through tragedy, asks himself “How can this happen to me?” You might be the type with enough insight to hold on for your dear life, but slip because your grip is not as tight as you might like. You aint immune to it, naaah and if you’re true to yourself, then you aint new to it. Trusted in self, lusted and lured to it. So when the darkness overwhelms me and the tide of life rises and swells, ‘It Is Well’ is what compels me.” – Odd Thomas
8. Satellite Kite
Satellite Kite comes in as one of the top five tracks of this album. The explanation of the album’s namesake is fleshed out in this track. Combine the concept with wafting background vocals, and Satellite Kite fulfills it’s name as well as the feel. Seemingly heavenly, yet earthy at the same time. This track certainly speaks for itself…
“…and so the ineffable, unapproachable God who invented the space in human heart, invaded space to reach the depths of human hearts. It’s all part of His perfect plan. Sinners in the hands of God, holding onto kite string. Connecting a redeemed humanity, by the finished work of the King of Kings.” – Odd Thomas
9. Wonderful (Feat. Propaganda)
This track is another one of the top five on the album. The intro, the beat, the chimes/xylophone, the lyrics and Prop’s verse all combine together to instill a sense of wonder and awe of God. Especially following up Satellite Kite and the focus on the work of God to connect us to Him, Wonderful is a truly worshipful track. I think it is most poetically expressed in Propaganda’s spoken word piece.
Would we with ink the ocean fill and the expanse of the sky be stretched in parchment. Would we line with canvasses the walls of our hearts apartments? Any attempt to capture His image would fall short and everything that He do to me is such a beautiful eulogy.
10. Motive 1, 2
I think Motive 1, 2 is a semi-playful song about the motives of many to want to get to know about people rather than have a real friendship/relationship, their hectic work/life schedules and people taking words out of context. Although, I could be waaay off base on that…that’s a little ironic.
11. A Bridge Between
A strong instrumental to help set the tone for the last part of the album.
12. Surrender (Feat. Lee Green)
Surrender comes up as my third favorite on the album. Lee Greene absolutely takes this track from his chorus to his verse. Greene has released some music in the past with The Rep and independently as part of an unreleased album. He is one of the most exciting artists on the Humble Beast roster and I look forward to his album releasing. But back to the track. Surrender speaks about the nature of man to be slaves. All men in the end are slaves; some to sin, some to God.
“Bound to sin or bound to obey. Either way were both slaves. One kills. One saves.” – Odd Thomas
13. Beautiful Eulogy
Beautiful Eulogy is in a close running for Anchor as my favorite on the album. Thumping percussion, a flutish aura and guitar combine to snatch me up and wrap it’s soothing melody around my heart and my mind, refusing to let me go until I confess that I am saved by grace and “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” It serves to remind me of the prefect hope that lies in Christ for those who have placed their faith in Him. Beautiful Eulogy close the album in a way few can do; I immediately want to start the album over after listening to this track multiple times. Which brings us back to Hello from Portland. If you’re listening to this on repeat, it is nice to have a moment to reflect on the final message of the album.
“and when it’s my time to go, go ahead and take me home, I know I’ll be with You,…nowhere that I’d rather go, I wanna be with You.”