TerrainArtist/Band: Sandy Bender
Terrain, composed and performed by Sandy Bender, is a bittersweet collection of instrumental acoustic music that draws from baroque, ethnic folk, and American jazz and blues. While the album features Sandy’s exquisite finger-picked guitar, he also displays versatility on banjo, mandolin, ukulele, clarinet and harmonica.
The haunting title track is inspired by the French rescue crews who combed the rugged landscape of the Alps for survivors of an airplane crash. While the guitar thrashes like a war drum, the harmonica alludes to a lilting hopelessness reminiscent of French and gypsy accordion music. When the banjo arrives upon the scene, one can sense the fortitude of survivors concealing their tears.
“Hawk Feather” and “A Passing Cloud” also take this aerial view of the quilted tapestry below. The music may float ethereally, soar through a forest, or plummet into a graceful cadence before touching ground.
Joy is always present, even if it is often tempered with melancholic reflection. “A Summer Meadow” and “A Bright Morning” celebrate life flourishing in sunshine. “Wedding Bells” anticipates the happiness of marriage, while “With Grace and Dignity” and “Proud Love” portray confidence and security. “Two Dancing Pigs” is downright exuberant, as guitar and harmonica spin circles around one another.
The music darkens in “Night,” but the ominousness dissipates as the dawn approaches. “Breath” starts with a deep inhalation and a march-like summoning of courage.
Another highlight, “Boopty Boop,” harks back to memories of Cab Calloway singing “Minnie the Moocher” with Betty Boop, and Koko the Clown from early Fleischer Studios cartoons.
The final track, “On the Oregon Trail,” pays respect to the pioneers who set out on an arduous journey to find a place to call home. Our travels are really the essence of our lives. Who do we meet and who do we love as we find our way through ever new terrain?