My first encounter with Danielson was at Calvin College back in the undergrad days. I can't remember the year, but I know the venue, where I was sitting, and encountering the art meets music style of Daniel Smith. He was wearing a tight fitting suit, with blinders around his eyes, antlers on his head, and bells strapped to his ankle. He had an overhead projector with all the lyrics on it and invited everyone to sing along. I had never encountered anything like this at the time and it has ever so impacted my life as it engages with the merging of art, music, and spirituality.
Sunday I had the small chunk of time to snuggle on my couch and remember my experiences with this musical endevor through a musical documentary. I had heard about the documentary a year ago when they first finished the film but I hadn't received the opportunity to watch the documented journey of the Danielson, Brother Danielson, Danielson Familie, of Danielson Sonship. All of these groups are a hybrid of the thoughts, ideas, and vision of Dan Smith. I
If you haven't heard the music take the time to figure it out. I promise it does take time and it's not soothing to the soul but a music journey of merging faith, art, and music. Danielson: A Family Movie (or Make a Joyful Noise Here) follows the ending of the Familie and working towards a new project. The music is passionate. Passionate about a loving Father (God) who is the Creator of all things and enables those who recognize this Spirit to forge in creativity. The music is odd yet rich in what it means to serve, love, care, and give to other people. People want to automatically label things as Christian and leave the conversation with all your preconceptions but that would be shallow and unable to deal with what is real and what is in front of you.
I can tell you a lot about the film but I don't want to. I want to talk about the experience with the film and the movement in my soul that I haven't felt in quite sometime. I work hard to find the spiritual throughout my culture. With Danielson it is the manifestation of the Spirit and what we do when we learn how to die to ourselves and begin to live in the spirit of something bigger than ourselves. Life in the spirit is beautiful if we allow it to not have boundaries or constraints on our life. The creativity astounds me as Danielson Familie wears nurses uniforms and offers the visual reminder that Christ/God/Spirit can offer healing into our lives.
Without Danielson we wouldn't have Sufjan Stevens. Danielson helped produce the Michigan record that was highly acclaimed. Sufjan steals many of the ideas that Daniel Smith had set up and I think that's lovely. He is able to introduce merging of artistic concepts that not only stirs your ears but also your eyes. It's amazing what happens when we connect the music with the art or at least find and contemplate the statements being made on stage. Friends are good for this.
This film made me miss my Michigan community. A community of people who are committed to art (visually and musically) and how we can challenge one another to not only be better artists but better people who live with a spirit inside them that pushes and validates people outside of themselves. I hope to find an art community again. I don't know if that will lead me back to Michigan but I hope it leads me home.