Kyle Pederson issued the beautiful 12.25 CD (here), a compendium of pastorales for the Christmas season of 2011, and now follows with a chamber recitation of various Lutheran hymns he wanted to bring out of the church and put before the public at large. Thus, though Renewal is an exercise in just that, revivifying the quiet beauty of the compositions involved, it's also a re-awakening of the populist mind to the slower less expedient virtues in living our lives. As against the Calvinist work ethos, where idle hands and minds are considered fair game to ol' Dan Scratch's enthrallment, the Lutheran frame here seems to be—and, being ex-Catholic and zen atheist, I'm not exactly an expert in comparative religion, so don't rely on me for ecclesiastic authority in such matters—that it's quite okay to just appreciate beauty for its own sake. Phew! Good thing, because I'm digging these tracks on a purely existentialist level and certainly don't want the godthing displeased with me. I've read His book; He's not always the most pleasant of individuals. In fact, now that I think upon it, He rarely is. Hm.
Abetted by six very sympathetic musicians but also appearing solo, as in the brisk Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, an odd title to say the least but my favorite track in this trove of extremely pleasant miniatures, the temperament is one of constant attention to musical virtues and appreciation of Creation alongside man's place in it. Pederson, however, as he did in 12.25 transcends any liturgical presentations I've so far encountered of this ilk of fare and precisely, or so I imagine, because he possesses an Erasmian Humanism within his own spiritual preferences. This generates a CD that stands complementarily with Will Ackerman's gorgeous later Oregon-ish output, even to the extent of being occasionally kindred to the more prairie sensibilities of Phil Aaberg and other of the Windham Hill alums, as in All Creatures of our God and King.
You're not likely to run across very many compendiums like this. Roger Eno has worked in the vein, as have others, here and there, but few can marshal the calm and illumination of thought required to properly encompass what it seems to me goes well beyond the original works themselves in a Renewal all too necessary to our world's bizarre times. Had Martin Luther been able to sit down, talk to his once-good-friend Erasmus, and listen to music of this nature over a cup of hot tea and reminiscences, perhaps he would've been less the firebrand, more contemplative, and things would now be much warmer in the decaying overall Western religious canon………but then we always have loved theatrics and zealotry a good deal more than common sense and restraint, haven't we?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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