Including an amazing acoustic version of 'Street Lights'
Jessie Atkinson
13:30 26th October 2019

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Currently preaching in his mid-to-late religious phase, producer and rapper Kanye West released his album JESUS IS KING this Friday (25 October). Along with it, a 38 minute film.
Gigwise were invited along to see it at the BFI Imax. Here are all the things JESUS IS KING does:

Delivers otherworldly sound

Thanks to special mixes of massive new songs like 'Selah' as well as classic gospel declarations like 'Allelujah' - filmed in prime acoustic surrounds for the Imax screen and speakers - sound is extraordinary. Some will be disappointed however (as we were) that more focus wasn’t offered to West’s fantastic new album. 

Makes an excellent case for circle framing

Set in an underground chamber with a perfect circle cut into its ceiling (an ideal environment, ancient peoples know, for acoustic splendour) JESUS IS KING looks primarily through a circular lens. Never one to fuck with convention, West and director Nick Knight’s choice of frame adds an appealing element to a film that is, at surface level, all about the music.

Gives us an amazing acoustic version of 'Street Lights' 

A highlight of the film sees West and members of the Sunday Service Choir deliver a delicate acoustic cover of the 2008 cut 'Street Lights'. Shrouded by darkness in the hushed, echoing set of the underground church, it's a special moment that connects West's faith to previous releases in his long career. 

Focuses on the beauty of the Sunday Service Choir

West features only laterally in his film. Unless you’re an Evangelist - or truly believe the Lord is our saviour - then this is a celebration not of Jesus, but of the Sunday Service Choir. Vocals deliver pang after pang of beauty with their harmonies, their precision and their skill, expounding on the single, short song 'Every Hour' they appear on on JESUS IS KING. 

Plays with perspective

The audience observe natural beauties through that circular eye - a deer, a shaking plant - but also get to see Sunday service in a totally new way. West and Knight show the magnificent set at several angles, including from a bottom-up perspective that sees the conductor's ecstatic hand movements from somewhere by his knees, the endless sky stretching out above him through the circle in the roof.

Advertises Yeezy

Yes, the entire choir dons Yeezy and yes, it delivers the cult-ish element this film could never have been made without. 

Demands an emotional response

One circular observation isolates a member of the choir as harmonies ring out around her. There are tears in her eyes. In the closing scene, West holds his small baby Psalm in his arms, singing a capella as he sleeps. West may have made an amazing new album in a long run of many, but don't lose sight of what this phase of his career has transformed him into: an Evangelist. 

JESUS IS KING is out now. 

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Photo: Press