Massivivid

(Note: This is my copy of this page as the original website is no longer available.) 

Wally Shaw comments on the songs on the album, 

brightblur

In Letters to Malcolm, C.S. Lewis is asked to describe his image of God. He replies that it must be a "bright blur becoming brighter and blurier" the more he knows of Him This is my version of a praise song to the One who will always be a mystery while we serve Him here on earth.

I stand amazed in this place
Sun dried salt stains on my face
always You never me
this is where I've got to be
In Your name there is a song I sing
But the melody's escaping me
You will always be a mystery
God, this is where I've got to draw my lines
And tell you how I feel because its time
To crawl into the hands that tore my sky [Brightblur]
Wake from this sleep in the deep
Pray the Lord my soul to keep
Burn like fire, flow like rain
This is where I leave my pain

Unmade

The more that God creates himself in me, the less room there is for the old me. When you realize that dying to yourself in order to live in Christ is the only way to go, there is a certain return to innocence. In that place of innocence, I asked God to make nothing out of me so that He could remake Himself in me.

I've no illusion who I am this lightning shard of me 
cuts itself into reality
You look into my skin and pull me inside out 
right here in front of me today
I'm running faster not in fear, but because my legs won't stop
You've broken me so fierce 
I fear my sanity's been shattered to a thousand tiny drops today
and if You have the time 
won't You make nothing out of me
would You be so kind as to make nothing out of me
If I could speak weak enough to speak the weakness of my soul
I'd cease to speak at all
Here is the holy ground the bush is burning now, 
but I dissolve today
the cage is opened now, You've pulled the doors and called to me still I want to be set free

deep heaven

In C.S. Lewis' science-fiction allegory Perelandra, there is an Adam character who does not appear until the end of the book, and who has not yet fallen into sin as our Adam did. I wonder what would happen if this Adam responded to the message that the USA sent into space a half a century ago searching for extra terrestrial life - would he have any insight for a planet that had rejected God?

Through darkened space came frequencies, 
familiar words in humanese
its been years since we've heard this tongue, 
since our innocence had almost been undone, 
you search for life beyond your own 
but you've pulled a cloud around your home
and pierced the night with a wounded plea 
to find your place in eternity
the green girl, she's ok and still naive
because of you I found my eve
I find it strange you'll never learn
you'd rather have your rockets burn,
than give in to what's in front of you
satellites shot out in space 
broadcast waves out to the face
probe the skies for some small trace 
what will you find there second chance for human race 
simplicity you wont embrace
stumble blindly through His grace 
what will you find there

BRIGHTBLUR

In a dizzying new world where information, entertainment and art all travel at the speed of light, people's penchant for simple categorization and sound-bite summaries is often outpaced by creativity that refuses to stand still long enough to be pigeonholed. Tattoo Records' newest act, Massivid and its dramatic debut album, brightblur, are a perfect case in point.

You can loosely draw a line through the band's diverse influences as far back as the late 1980s, when the urgency, frustration and angst of a post-industrial generation of young people found its way onto record in what was called-for a time-industrial rock. When European dance club acts in the mid-'90s added to the mix a computerized, relentlessly rhythmic sister of the "scratching" that once characterized rap music, "electronica pop" was born. But what designation do you turn to when deep-seated pop craftsmanship is welded to the fiery, free-from cacophony of electronica pop? Just call it Massivivid-and prepare to be blown away.

The six-member band is one of the most head-spinningly original and exciting groups in rock music today, and brightblur is a stunning explosion of sounds for the mind, body and spirit. Add to that both a multitude of million-dollar hooks ingeniously woven in and out of the melange, and deeply moving words-as profound as they are poetic-and you start to sense the stirrings of something truly extraordinary.

Wally Shaw, founder and leader of Massivivid works with the youth ministry at Chicago's famed Willow Creek Church and is a member of the music team for Axis, the church's GenX-oriented outreach dedicated to presenting the Gospel to teen and college-aged people through the arts. And as Wally and Massivivid-in both their individual and group identities-shatter preconceptions and frame relationship with Christ in a new musical context, they are also taking contemporary Christian music into bold, adventuresome territory.

Fans of the intense sound of bands from Smashing Pumpkins to Nine Inch Nails and Garbage will find a musical affinity for Massivivid as well as a couple of dramatic divergences. Wally, the group's principal songwriter and singer, spikes Massivivid's sonic wallop with pop sensibilities-melody, structure and unabashed hookiness-that gives the band broad accessibility without sacrificing passion or power. But it's a message of hope-and a man named Jesus-that sets Massivivid miles apart from its secular counterparts. 

Industrial rock, electronica pop, and most of their derivations have been built on harshly negative, cynical views of the world and society-as well as rejection of the edicts of mainstream rock/pop song structure. But Wally had a different vision. "I've always been a pretty positive, optimistic person, and the really dark perspective of industrial rock, and all its subsequent off-shoots, actually is very creepy to me," he says. "But I've always been attracted by the power of the sound. Whatever you say comes across with tremendous impact. The idea of using that forcefulness to convey love rather than fatalism and hostility intrigues and excites me."

Other bands' use of tape loops of cement mixers, jackhammers, locomotives and various other industrial noise for both percussion and often-unsettling urban ambiance challenged Wally to experiment with recasting the truths of the Christian faith into unprecedented settings. At the same time, Wally never lost strong childhood memories gleaned from the best of his parents' record collection-from the raw, unvarnished honesty of classic Johnny Cash Gospel albums to the brilliant melodicism of Frank Sinatra. And while influences that run from noisy Caterpillars on construction sights to Ol' Blues Eyes and the Man in Black may seem an incongruous mix, each left a deep impression on Wally, in sound and soul. And it's that bone-deep understanding of true inspiration in all its forms, matched with endless imagination, that beats at the very heart of brightblur.

The album's first single, "Unmade," alternates between a roar and a whisper, and draws ideas from the work of famed 20th century Christian theologian and novelist, C.S. Lewis, as it comments on the contradictions of human nature. "God has made the freedom of salvation so readily available to us, that even if it's exactly what we want and pray for, we doubt it because it seems too easy," says Wally. "We want an easy way out, and yet we insist on making things much more complicated and difficult than they really are."

Massivivid confronts the ravages of addiction on "Drop." Wally layers lyrics of unflinchingly honest self-revelation atop a thunderous wall of sound in a riveting journey that finds its ultimate- and only-resolution in the hope and deliverance of Christ.

The album's title cut draws on another reference from C.S. Lewis, who once described his human concept of God as a "bright blur." The song creeps in like mist over an ethereal ocean as Wally puts into words humankind's eternal amazement at the mysteries of the Almighty. In characteristic Massivivid form, a gentle verse combusts into an explosive chorus, using thunderous dynamics to convey magnitude of depth and commitment behind the band's devotion to the Savior.

Wally spent the first 20 years of his life moving from town-to-town in his native state of Texas, where his father was a Baptist minister. He was a musically gifted child and had formed his first garage-rock band by the time he reached junior high school. The long chain of events that led to Massivivid began in the late '80s when Wally and another techno-synth wizard formed a twosome called Deitiphobia. The duo played at Cornerstone-one of contemporary Christian music's major outdoor festivals-the summer after the second of the pair graduated high school. By the time they made it back to Texas they'd received an offer to do an album on a small, California-based record label.

After two years and two albums the young men went separate ways. Wally had met Sheri, his wife-to-be, at a Deitiphobia concert in 1991. The couple began dating and became engaged in the summer of '92. When Wally's former partner departed, Sheri, herself a gifted singer and keyboardist, joined Wally in a new incarnation of the band. They moved to Sheri's hometown of Chicago, and were married the following summer. The Shaws delivered a third Deitiphobia album soon after their marriage, and played with varying personnel in and around Chicago for the next three years. In 1996, Wally realized a lifelong dream of having a large, full band when he and Sheri retired their previous band and formed Massivivid. The new group recorded a seven-song EP of Wally's songs and returned once again to Cornerstone the next year. A representative of Benson Label Group's Tattoo Records imprint heard the band and asked for a copy of the EP. Within weeks, talks had begun and by early '98, Massivivid was a major label act. 

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Last Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2003