433. Fallen Slendor – Jeff Johnson
FALLEN SPLENDOR (1986)
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.