433. Fallen Slendor – Jeff Johnson

FALLEN SPLENDOR (1986)

Jeff Johnson

From the album cover to the pristine production to the awe inspiring lyrics and moving musical soundscapes there is literally no one in the world quite like Jeff Johnson. Part “New Age,” part jazz, part progressive rock, Johnson has spent the better part of four decades creating some of the most intriguing and satisfying music in CCM or anywhere else for the matter.

Fallen Splendor is the first of two projects listed on this countdown and may be the most accessible of all of his projects. The opening track “Looking for God (Using a Spotlight)” could and should have been a Christian rock radio hit in the vein of Peter Gabriel. Like many of Johnson’s projects there is a constant sense of longing and searching. It is as though the listener is joining Johnson on a quest through a musical and lyrical journey all while there is a sense of travel and wonder.

In a constant search for authenticity Johnson would actually record real rain and thunder to use as background ambiance on his projects. Reality and surrealism seem to be the counter-balances of most of Johnson’s work and the drifting from dream to reality and back is subtle and substantive. Instruments not only direct the melody but serve as road-maps for the journey Johnson is directing.

Combining the progressive rock elements with George Winston-like sobering piano makes for instrumentals that provoke thought as well as emotion. One word of warning: His albums are best listened to in their entirety as the direction and movements funnel the listener toward a particular revelation that scattered listening may cause the listener to miss.

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  1. Lee Pfahler
    November 13, 2010 at 2:00 am

    This was either my first or second album by Jeff Johnson the other one being his album Pilgrimage. I was intrigued by the cover of Fallen Splendor enough to buy it without hearing any of it. And yes, the Looking for God song should have been a hit. It kicks! I saw him once in concert more than 20 years ago at Cornerstone. It was just him, a keyboard and a computer and he attracted the widest range of listeners. From punk hairdo kids to the elderly, I kid you not. I have kept up with his music over the years and there is no one that I am aware of Christian or otherwise who is so unique. For the last 15 years or so he has concentrated on Celtic and chant influenced music. It is wonderful stuff!

  2. adam
    June 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I know most people prefer Icons as the ultimate Jeff Johnson CD, but this one is my fave!

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