Track Notes 14: Seven Thousand Saints (ELIJAH, part 15)

by Dave Skipper

SERIES PAGE: ELIJAH
PREVIOUS: Track Notes 13: Susurrations of the Almighty

Story Summary: 14 Seven Thousand Saints

God asks Elijah what he is doing, and Elijah replies that he has been very zealous for him, but that he is the only remaining true prophet in the land (King Ahab having previously overseen the slaughter of the faithful prophets as part of his process of installing the prophets of Baal and Asherah instead), and that now his life is in danger too. It is as if nothing happened on Mount Carmel after all in terms of altering the heart and trajectory of the spiritual state of the nation. God replies in detail about what is to happen: Elijah is instructed to anoint a new king over Syria, a new king over Israel, and a new prophet (Elisha) to replace himself. And God assures him that he has reserved 7,000 in Israel who have not bowed to Baal. He is not alone, far from it! And Ahab’s wicked regime has its days numbered…

Sounds & Structure

A few things stand out about the nature of this track and how I approached it in marked contrast to the rest of the album. Firstly, and most obviously, this is by far the longest track on the album. I wanted to keep everything else concise and to the point, but here I really wanted space to let the track open up and breathe unhurriedly, at its own pace. Secondly, this is pure 100% modular synth work, no external sounds or field recordings were used this time. Thirdly, as this is the ‘grand finale’ and has a particularly serene and purposeful and uplifting vibe, I made sure to complete all the other track recordings before touching this. In essence, this piece is all about capturing the feel of the awe of Elijah hearing God’s voice speak to him, and in particular I wanted to communicate strength of peace in the present and confident hope for the future.

My starting point in preparing the specific patch on my modular synth to record this track was thinking about the fact that there were 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. And so the very high-pitched tone at the start is at a frequency of approximately 7,000 Hz. I checked the frequency on a YouTube video (handy to know that you can find ‘videos’ on YT of sine waves at almost any frequency you wish for), and calibrated my Ieaskul F. Mobenthey (IFM) Denum oscillator module by ear. The rest of the patch was set up to modulate the Denum’s parameters by a pair IFM Fourses (chaotic cross-modulating quad VCOs), and then to channel the Denum’s output through various distortions, FX, and processors.

After the briefest of tests to check that everything was set up and balanced nicely so that I could develop the texture and noisiness of the signal path, everything was recorded in one take, first time. So what you hear is the complete, raw, unedited improvisation. It was late evening, the room was dimly lit, and everything fell into place perfectly. It was one of those special creative moments when everything clicks together effortlessly and I felt right ‘in the zone.’ But this was the culminating moment of many months of thinking, planning, playing, preparing, and then constructing the rest of the album.

Strange Fact

Visible light occupies the frequency range of 430-750 THz/terahertz (i.e. 430,000,000,000,000-750,000,000,000,000 Hz) in the electromagnetic spectrum. Slow right down to 7,000 Hz, and we end up in the VLF (Very Low Frequency) radio frequency range, also known as the myriameter band, which spans the range of 3-30Khz. “Due to its limited bandwidth, audio (voice) transmission is highly impractical in this band, and therefore only low data rate coded signals are used. The VLF band is used for a few radio navigation services, government time radio stations (broadcasting time signals to set radio clocks) and for secure military communication. Since VLF waves can penetrate at least 40 meters (131 ft) into saltwater, they are used for military communication with submarines… Naturally occurring signals in the VLF band are used by geophysicists for long range lightning location and for research into atmospheric phenomena such as the aurora.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Spiritual Stuff

The message is clear and manifold:

  • God not only sees Elijah’s apparent predicament, but he sees the bigger, proving Elijah’s concerns to be unfounded.
  • God not only sees, he also oversees. He is sovereign over all the affairs of men, of kings, and of the rise and fall of kingdoms.
  • God not only oversees, he also directs people and events to his ultimate purposes. Elijah still has vital work to do. God always works in and through those who he has called.
  • God not only directs, he also cares. He is keeping a people set apart for himself. The word holy, or sanctified, means set apart. Biblically speaking, saints are not perfect, saints are not escapists, and saints are not irrelevant. Saints are normal people who God has set apart, who are kept by him and for him. A saint is anyone who has not bowed to any god apart from the Lord God Yahweh himself. Since the time of Christ, this means anyone who has submitted to the divine Lordship of Jesus Christ, the one through whom God has been fully and finally revealed.

In New Testament language, here is a perfect description of what a true saint is:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:1-10‬

Back to that 7,000 Hz tone – it’s not a particularly pleasant frequency to listen to, and is potentially irritating (though it doesn’t dominate the track) – this made me think about how those 7,000 believers were puncturing the prevailing influence of false religion in Israel at that time. They were an irritant to King Ahab, Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal and Asherah. The high tone also makes me think of the heavenly realm, of ascension, and of rising above the troubles of the world. Yet it is still a physical sound, and so truly effective saints are still present, grounded, and active right within the world. And so it should be, for this world is the site of God’s kingdom and activity and promise of ultimate and eternal renewal.

NEXT: Future Concept Albums

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1 Response to Track Notes 14: Seven Thousand Saints (ELIJAH, part 15)

  1. Pingback: Track Notes 13: Susurrations of the Almighty (ELIJAH, part 14) | The Word on Noise

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