John Pedersen's "Legend and Landscape"
The Anza-Borrego desert in California is an incredibly vast and intriguing wilderness. In the past, Native Americans lived harmoniusly with the land and also left a colorful legacy of rock paintings, many of them near lifegiving springs. Fierce winds would sweep across unusual geological formations while occasional storms flooded a landscape inhabited by a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Also, strange ghost stories are still being told about this place, and mysterious lights would be seen in the sky and legends about "Wraith Galleons", that would appear at night, were noted. Having spent several years exploring this magical place, keyboardist and composer John Pedersen now presents "LEGEND AND LANDSCAPE". This vibrant and dynamic recording communicates John's wilderness experiences through dramatic orchestration, elaborate sound design and beautifully crafted melodies.
The cover art consists of pictures John took in the desert, of Native rock art sites, after spending six months doing research at the Museum of Man in San Diego, CA, and meeting several times with rock art expert, Ken Hedges. Interestingly enough Big Rock Studios, where co-producer Andy Machin recorded and mastered this album, is located near an old Indian village complete with morteros and large rocks where scorch marks from campfires are still visible. This certainly enhanced the creative process, but it was Andy Machin who really helped bring John's compositions out from the realm of the ancient and into the new world. Andy loaned his talents by playing guitar, bass and percussion on the project and the association with Mr. Machin continued on the following two albums. John also developed a friendship with Howard Givens, the owner of a highly successful ambient record label called "Spotted Peccary Music", which helped "Legend and Landscape" acquire more of an orchestrated-ambient type of flavor.
Listeners will experience the Native peoples "Dancing in Rare Waters" after a refreshing summer storm, go to the "Hidden Oasis of Wonder", where a spring provides relief from the desert sun and visualize the "Painted Visions on Stone". The majesty of the "Kumeyaay Nation" is sure to inspire and the cinematic-soundtrack of "Moonlit Rocks and a Falling Star" will transport the listener. One track, "Rite of Passage" was inspired by a high mountain rescue John Pedersen and his wife were involved in, where they had to help a lost elderly couple find shelter in March, 1999. The Pedersens had to hike off of the mountain in total darkness during a developing snowstorm to seek help. Although this story has a happy ending, the tune really captures the harrowing and epic emotions felt during this ordeal. Additionally, this eclectic collection even features a Celtic influenced song, "Racing the Wind". Also on the album is an ambient ode to the mighty thunderheads that build up over the normally parched land entitled, "Mountains in the Air".
The CD spent several months on the New Age Voice Top 100 peaking at #70, which despite it's modest chart position, still yielded substantial album sales. "Legend and Landscape" is currently showing a bit of a resurgence and, as of early 2009, has experienced a significant increase in downloads at the iTunes store. It is still receiving some internet airplay at Cool Waters Radio, Monad FM and Mystic Age Radio. Also, the ambient "Mountains in the Air" was recently played on KCCK. "Lost in the Badlands" was also featured on WUSM's "Soundwaves". NewAgeMusic.NU started playing "Dancing in Rare Waters" in May 2009. Even today, the album is being downloaded and streamed quite frequently on iTunes, Spotify and Pandora.
Read what reviewer Bill Binkelman had to say about this album from "WIND & WIRE" Magazine in 2000:
"Keyboardist John Pedersen's follow up to his recording of several years ago, White Owl is a varied and polished collection of synthesizer-driven numbers that represents a big step up from his previous work. The keyboards themselves sound much better and John's songwriting is more accomplished and more adventurous. All in all, this is a triumph to say the least."
"Legend and Landscape" is a musical portrait of the Anza-Borrego desert area of California. This CD is full of catchy and melodic music that varies from an almost adult-contemporary/smooth jazz vibe to Jan Hammer-esque driving fusion to more relaxed warm synth-dominated songs...and, of course, some tribal and ambient elements thrown in as well."
"Arrival" may echo Lanz/Speer's collaborative work for some..."Rite of Passage" features a bubbly rhythm merged with some interesting keyboard textures. "Wraith Galleons" has space music textures, albeit of a more active variety..."Lost in the Badlands" is mysterious without being dark and is lightly flavored with some Native Amerian touches, along with luxurious synth washes. "Return of the Sky People" is another Native American-influenced piece, more overtly so than the previous song I mentioned."
"Legend and Landscape" is the work of an artist who is really coming into his own. There is something here for everyone, yet the CD has a singleness of musical vision that is apparent after just one or two listens. This ability to have cohesion and musical diversity coalesce on an album is the sign of unique artistry. John Pedersen has arrived and is in the big leagues of electronic keyboardists now. Highly recommended for fans of melodic EM everyhere."
John used the Emu Proformance Piano Module, Alesis Nano Synth, Alesis Nano Bass, Roland JV-1010, Roland W-30 Sampler and a Korg X-3 during the recording of this album.
Just prior to the release of "Legend and Landscape", John performed at a benefit concert in Escondido, CA in front of around 1000 people. Along with John, Jon Jenkins of Spotted Peccary music, famed jazz sax player Christopher Hollyday, "White Owl" drummer Mark Sarno and Mark's sister-vocalist Tina Sarno Ostrem (now Inscoe) all performed for the crowd at the acclaimed Center For The Arts Escondido, California. Since then, John has performed tunes from this album at small venues like BORDERS, with the music was being well received by the audience.
The lushly orchestrated track, "Moonlit Rocks and a Falling Star", also appears as a hauntingly beautiful piano instrumental on John's fourth CD, "Paradise", as part of the "Themes of Love" medley.
After listening to the audio samples, feel free to purchase this masterpiece and take the journey. It's available at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Pandora and Spotify.
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