Philip Hodges and Michael Minkoff, of the chamber prog duo Physick, began work on Death is Their Shepherd a little over four years ago. At its inception, the project comprised little more than three songs and a concept. Now, the fully realized project contains a twenty-one track two-disc concept album bundled with an illustrated 80-page narrative companion. An obvious labor of love, the peculiar Death is Their Shepherd stands apart for its ambitious scope, uncompromising depth, and painstaking detail.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Death is Their Shepherd is its subject matter. Of all the important certainties of human experience, death might be the very most important and common. It’s also the most currently neglected. In the past, Christians and unbelievers alike considered the reality of death (not the distorted fantasy of death over which our culture tends to obsess) to be a central arena for artistic exploration. People once believed that measured contemplation on your own mortality had a salutary effect on your behavior and worldview. If you consider that you will die, perhaps you will make the life you have left worth living.
In our day, contemporary Christians typically hesitate to write songs and stories about the biblical reality of death and sin. Aiming to be family-friendly and marketable, Christian songwriters tend to focus on only the hopeful and reassuring biblical realities. But unless you confront the stark realities of death and sin, the hope of the resurrection and the promise of salvation will hold little depth.
Through music, words, and pictures, Death is Their Shepherd provides ample fodder for an honest meditation on death and mortality. We hope that you will invest your time and resources into helping us bring this project to life. With your help, we hope to return the discussion of death back to its scriptural roots.
Phil Hodges—composer and multi-instrumentalist—wrote the majority of the music for Death is Their Shepherd. Physick implemented a host of instruments and sonic textures to execute their novel musical designs, from strings to bassoon to synthesizers to a forty-person choir.
Here are a few sample tracks:
Death is Their Shepherd
Before the Silver Tether Breaks
Precious in the Sight
Michael Minkoff—drummer, writer, and producer for Physick—wrote the majority of the lyrics for Death is Their Shepherd. He also wrote the illustrated short story contained in the narrative companion.
The short story centers on the fictional character Zakary Adamson, a young adult doing everything he can to avoid thinking about the recent death of his father. Locked out of his home one night, Zak finds himself in the silent darkness of his mother’s back porch where he is visited by an incarnation of Death. Over the course of a night, Death guides Zak through a phantasmagorical dreamscape where Zak explores the origins, significance, and end of death.
The narrative companion for Death is Their Shepherd contains original illustrations created by Charity Goodwin, Rusty Hein, Vanessa Minkoff, and Derrick Otis. The cover of the double album is an oil painting by Linda Maphet. All of the finished original artworks are available as rewards to a few lucky backers. Aside from the poster, these are not prints. Backers will be receiving the one-of-a-kind original pieces.
(by Derrick Otis, Rusty Hein, and Michael Minkoff)
(by Charity Goodwin, Rusty Hein, Vanessa Minkoff, and Derrick Otis)
The Drop Caps
(by Vanessa Minkoff)
(by Rusty Hein, Derrick Otis, Charity Goodwin, and Vanessa Minkoff)
The Memento and Memorial Symbols
(by Rusty Hein and Vanessa Minkoff)
The Narrative Cover Charcoal
(by Derrick Otis and Rusty Hein)
The Album Cover Oil Painting
(by Linda Maphet)
Note: Physick retains the copyright on all original artwork and reserves the right to reproduce the artwork in digital or tangible form.
Why Does the Nehemiah Foundation Use Kickstarter?
You might be wondering why the NFfCR uses Kickstarter to fund the final stages of our artistic projects. That’s a good question!
There are a few reasons. First, Kickstarter provides a reliable, secure, structured place for potential patrons to help support projects they care about. It also allows artists to reward their fans with unique interactions and one-of-a-kind rewards. This fosters community and accountability, and it allows patrons to take a more direct role in supporting the art and/or artists they care about.
But the most important reason the Nehemiah Foundation uses crowd-funding is because we think the patron model for supporting art promotes more excellent, more free, more edifying art. We have seen how the prevailing contemporary mass-market distribution model corrupts, debases, and overly constricts “Christian art,” how it puts undue financial burdens on artists, and how it does not adequately serve the large variety of tastes that exist within the Church. If we are going to change the arts being made for the Church, we have to change the way art for the Church is funded and supported. We think Kickstarter is a helpful tool in accomplishing this end.
Risks and challenges
In a project with this many moving parts, production delays are a real consideration. We have already finished the mastering process, so a digital release on Halloween of 2015 is a virtual certainty barring an act of God.
Printing paperback books and double albums can be delayed by logistical issues outside of our control, however. We are hoping to have all the files ready for manufacturing before the Kickstarter is complete (most of them are already ready to go). We are fairly confident that a November ship date should be manageable. One way or the other, we'll keep you updated.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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