Goodness, truth and beauty.
Christians have always affirmed these.
Goodness educates our morality, showing us how to act.
Truth is the foundation of our theology, the source of our freedom.
But it is beauty that captures and expresses our affection, and it is beauty we often neglect.
Young Oceans is good and true but it's also beautiful.
It doesn't just inspire your mind and behavior but your passion and imagination.
In this way, it is a worthy triumph of Christian aesthetics.
- Jon Tyson, Trinity Grace Church (2014)
\ YOUNG OCEANS //
YOUNG OCEANS is a neo-alternative worship project that evolved from hymns penned and arranged within the Trinity Grace Church community in New York City by songwriter Eric Marshall. The endeavor sprang up as a separate offshoot from TGC’s two live worship albums, Without End (2009) and We Sing As One (2011), when an eclectic gathering of musicians and parishioners began exploring artful re-renderings of Marshall’s songs in a SoHo apartment. Untethered from the expectations of a traditional congregational format, including both length and structure, a musical ethos emerged that was more a companion to reflective prayer and meditation than a typical church experience. Attendance at impromptu gatherings soon filled to overflowing, and led to the recording of a studio album that could be shared on a broader level. The resulting self-titled debut album was named Top 10 album of the year for 2012 by RELEVANT Magazine, and spawned a second release instrumental version titled BEFORE THE BEGINNING.
\ ADVENT //
As awareness of the first album continued to spread by worth of mouth, the band explored some follow ideas, settling on an end of year EP. Originally conceived as a meditative companion for the Advent season, a shrugging off of expected traditions in favor of an Old Testament perspective of yearning, the scope and meaning of the collection was ultimately altered and expanded by circumstances surroundings it’s recording. The recording sessions were delayed by a number of events, most notably the massive destruction of Hurricane Sandy on Brooklyn and the greater New York area. With the band’s Red Hook, Brooklyn studio directly in the line of the storm, power was lost, commuting was suspended, and even the producer’s vehicle was abandoned for a time without enough gas to wait in line for this commodity that had become so rare and precious in the New York area. The resulting ADVENT, released first as an EP in December 2012 and then as an expanded deluxe edition with instrumentals and bonus tracks in March 2013, reflects the desperate expectation inherent not just in the Old Testament longing for the first Advent but also in the groaning of the current loaning for the second.
\ I MUST FIND YOU //
The band’s fourth release and second full-length studio album I MUST FIND YOU will be released on September 30, 2014. Though still rooted deeply in understated confidence and pointed humility that defined previous releases, the songs are also distinctly more personal, doxologies derived from finding the height of hope amidst the depth of depression. Written and recorded under the duress of daily challenges and personal loss, including most notably the death of his mother-in-law, the album is accompanied by an author’s note by Marshall:
"I was sitting alone in St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in SoHo when this record first took shape. I had a melody recorded for what would become “To Hear Your Voice” playing over and over in my ears, desperate for a bridge lyric. Something fresh but classic. ‘Lord, what would you have us sing?’ my usual prayer. Suddenly, the roar of a bulldozer or a wrecking ball tearing into the church walls. Overwhelming volume. I yanked out my headphones. It was a flash flood on a clear summer day. Sheets of rain crashing onto the ancient roof…beautiful, heavy rain. And as quickly as it started, it was over. Out came the sun again.
Pour out Your Spirit like the rain
Teach me to dance with you again
That was it. I pictured the great King David dancing before the Lord. Undignified, he boasted and danced. Perhaps Samuel forgot to tell us it was storming that day. A man after God’s heart splashing around like a 4-year old…just him and his Lord. Stunning freedom. And there it was. I knew that rain was a gift.
Recording began January 6th, in Brooklyn. Mike Beck, our long-suffering producer working with us from his third studio in as many years. Nothing going right as usual. New and vintage gear falling apart, demons in the wires. About 10 degrees outside and the heat is shot in the studio. Everyone in hats and layers. Day 1, we barely got off the ground with 25 takes of a song that never made the record. Day 2 just as rough. All morning working on drums and bass for “Lead Me”. Slow going. During a break I glanced to see my phone had 15 or so missed calls. Not good. I hurried to the front room to call my wife and my heart hit my stomach. On the line, a tone you’ve never heard but instantly recognize. Her mother was gone. Taken her own life. I laid on the disgusting rug, phone to my ear, listening to my wife’s sobs and our girls playing in the background. A million thoughts. Where do you begin. Needless to say, this session was over.
I felt like the project was cursed. The last time Young Oceans recorded New York got slammed with a full blown hurricane. 8 feet of water and sea scum the floor below our studio. Of course, we knew we hadn’t caused these calamities. That’s not how it works. Perhaps it’s that the darkness is more intense if you’re looking toward the light.
Still, weren’t we just humble artists trying to do something of meaning? What is all this pain, death, trial? How do we form doxologies with this taste in our mouth? I didn’t need to look further than Psalm 13 for a glimmer of hope and precedent. How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? the Psalmist asks. Yet later, after the wrestling, I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
This was the way forward. It’s brutal and graceful irony that the way of Christ is death to life. And if these songs are about the struggle, the search, the brokenness and the ultimate Hope, then I’d be a liar if I told it differently."
- Eric Marshall (2014)