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Andy Hunter

Progressive dance music as conveyor of the gospel? Well, the conventional Christianity administered by Andy Hunter on Exodus, his solo full-length debut, isn't that far removed from the Peace Love Unity Respect movement of the early rave scene -- and here the British trance DJ draws from both backgrounds.

Born in mid-'70s England, Hunter left school to pursue sound engineering, eventually landing a gig for the touring acts of the New Generation Music and Mission, a Christian youth missionary and musical training organization. That took him to Bristol, where drum 'n' bass was breaking at the time. He tried his hand at DJing and by 1999 had moved to South Wales, where he started a club drum 'n' bass night, eventually adding progressive house, techno, and trance to the mix.

Exodus is the result of Hunter's musical and religious growth, and with much of the lyric material drawn from the Bible, you can't deny he's found his muse in the creator. But the text is open to various interpretations.

Take the pogoing trance track "Radiate," for example. Sung by Hunter in a British- accented nasal snarl reminiscent of early punk, the lyrics could be read as an ode to either a diva or a divinity: "I want you/To radiate/Your perfection/Permeate." The highly polished, guitar-driven big beat of "Go" opens the disc, followed by "The Wonders of You," with slicing synthesizers and more big-beat backbeat propelling the guest rap by Lyle Day, including humorously incongruous lines like "From Alpha to Omega/No one is greata/You can't cross the fade/You can't fade the cross..."

"Amazing" opens on a more somber note with strains of melancholy cello but morphs quickly into a high-energy trance romp with the heavenly voice of Christine Byrd delivering praise. "Sandstorm Calling" offers new wave-inspired synths that fuel more no-nonsense trance. Closing the sermon is the throbbing, driving "Intercessional," on which Hunter growls, "Intercede, and move the groove/And never let it go/Intercede, the sweat will bleed/My heart you need to know." But no matter what your religious persuasion, or lack thereof, if you dig solid beats and highly honed melodies, you'll be down with the sound of Andy Hunter.

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John Ferri

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