"These albums exhibit the sense of space and drama you'd expect from sweeping starscapes and exploding novas." — Echodiscs
"Thoroughly compelling and strangely familiar ... with engaging melodies and shimmering effects ... to transport the listener into the vast uncharted realms of deep space." — Jeff Filbert, Music From The Global Village
From the Media...
"One of the standards I use to judge music is how well it holds up over time. If I put a CD on for the first time in a while and it still sounds fresh, I know I have a winner. That's my reaction to revisiting Geodesium's recording West of the Galaxy. A 1987 release, West of the Galaxy is as vital and richly enjoyable a recording of space music as ever. Mark Petersen (aka Geodesium) makes music that wears very well and this CD shows that fact to good effect.
The CD opens with The Grand Tour and its slowly pulsing bass notes and shimmering synths. This is followed by a hyper-space cruiser, Zephyr, with whooshing effects, wonderfully done plucked-harp synths, and ferocious drum pads. These two cuts exemplify the duality of West of the Galaxy, i.e., the presence of deep space drifts and high velocity cruisers.
Not many musicians that I know of are as comfortable with both styles as Mark is. Jonn Serrie comes to mind, but Mark does not use the same long synth washes, instead concentrating more on notes and chords. Interestingly, Mark and Jonn are two of the premier composers of music for planetariums. That should certainly tell you something about the mood Mark's music conveys. You'll hear this in The Ocean of Space with its gently rotating melodies, Sky Flight with percolating rhythms and breezy synth flute, or the sixteen-minute title cut, a wonderful visit to deep space with slow bass rhythms, languid synth bass flutes, and shimmering synth effects.
Despite this recording's release date of 1987, I don't know if you will find much better space music being recorded today. West of the Galaxy is not dark or mysterious, but warm and friendly. For lovers of more melodic (but not neo-romantic) and cheerful space music, I recommend it highly." — Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire
"This is true 'space music'; Mark Petersen is a well-known writer of music for planetaria around the world. But it generally stays light and energetic throughout. The Grand Tour calls us into the universe with rolling harp-like chords and delicate rhythmic plucked bass. Zephyr is upbeat in tone with fast drums and a joyful melody, and suggests comets swinging around the solar system. Many songs are repetitive variations on a theme. Lightwaves pictures pulses of energy with a steady snare drum beat and an almost choral quality in places. Probe has a slower evocative quality with a slightly syncopated drum beat.
West of the Galaxy is the headliner, sixteen minutes long. Its call and response between bell-like music and a light airy sound is followed by a bass drone. The music fills and ebbs, but always the dance remains. In Winter's Return, the cold wind blows, suggestive of the seasonal change. There is the barest dissonant quality of decay. A fluttering in the background evokes a vision of birds headed south. This album feels well choreographed, as if to take us on a journey and then return us home. The sense of quiet energy makes it fine for drifting off or creative work." — Heartsong Review
"As a planetarium composer, Mark Petersen has been exploring his medium for nearly ten years and developing his own unique brand of space music. The planetarium environment — with the thrill of all-surrounding visual and all-encompassing audio experiences — has been historically complemented by a music all its own. Mark's recordings, under the name Geodesium, are original works that range from ethereal, floating music characteristic of the space music genre, to rock-influenced symphonic works that transcend their roots with the rich textures and counter-rhythms that are the signature of the Geodesium sound.
The title track, "West of the Galaxy," is the centerpiece of the album at just over 16 minutes, with a steady, undulating feel that borders on a Vollenweider-esque magic, as the gentle journey encounters minor turbulence, suggested by an occasional meteor shower or asteroid field. The other eight tracks show an appealing variety, ranging from the uptempo "Zephyr" and "Sky Flight" with its flute melodies, to the rippling harp-like arpeggios of "The Ocean of Space," complete with repetitive synth washes over choral chords. Throughout the journey there are many side trips and experiences of touching down on some beneficent new planet or distant space vistas looming ever closer as we soar through the heavens." — Heartbeats
"Mark C. Petersen is the performer and composer behind Geodesium and these fine collections of feel-good space music originally created for planetarium shows. The 16-minute title track of West of the Galaxy glides through space guided by outbursts of musical phrases that might sound like whimsical space creatures conversing and singing.
Probe is more somber, with a moody rhythmic trembler underscored by Alien-like shrieks. The ominous On To Orion also makes good use of atmospheric rhythms. And Zephyr is a more lighthearted, melody-based cosmic journey, breaking away from the ethereality of traditional space music." — Dan Margules, L.A. Jazz Scene
"The latest Geodesium album shows a big step forward beyond their fine Heartbeats debut, West of the Galaxy. This new release is in a league with Jonn Serrie's works, as music from and for the environment of the planetarium. Ranging from dynamic, rhythmic pieces to ethereal, beautifully floating music, Fourth Universe portrays magnificent visions of the universe.
The song titles are often clues to the tempo — the opener, Sailing To Neptune is a cruiser which rides the waves of the galaxies, while Deep Blue floats slowly as it spirals deeper, and Rhapsody on a Red Planet uses classical motifs to envision the desolate planet-scapes of Mars. Flights of fantasy move through deep space, romantic and ethereal at times, upbeat and rhythmic at others. The Geodesium sound is full of clarity, expressing its own view of space and all the sounds generated from these deep expanses. Eighteen tracks altogether make up this nearly hour-long release, marked by an ability to portray magnificent, memorable visions of the universe through its varied approaches to the space music genre." — Heartbeats
"Lately, I've been assigned to many people who either work on music for planetariums or TV specials on space. Out of all the assigned 'space cases', Mark Petersen, aka Geodesium, stands out above the rest. Fourth Universe is a collection of excerpts from several planetarium soundtracks. It contains pieces composed between 1986 to 1991. In sixty minutes time, Petersen covers a lot of ground, or space I should say.
He is one of the largest distributors of planetarium programs, space visuals and soundtracks to the planetarium and academic science community. Geodesium is compelling listening, with its floating atmospheres, moments of delicate beauty, sweeping neo-classical themes and blasts of unearthly sound which somehow juxtapose into a coherent whole. It all adds up to what must be the best, and most enjoyable, Geodesium album ever." — Ben Kettlewell, i/e and DreamsWord
"Fourth Universe opens with one of Petersen's most likeable tracks, Sailing To Neptune, followed by a calm mix of relaxing, floating-through-space type selections and more melodically structured tunes. Standouts include Moon Without A Name and Closer To Home.
This newer CD has twice as many tracks as the previous one, but each CD contains close to an hour of music, and both are good quality productions. Space music junkies must add these to their collections." — Dan Margules, L. A. Jazz Scene
"Geodesium is the work of planetarium composer Mark Petersen, whose previous efforts offer compelling and strangely familiar space music styles that ranged from dramatic anthems to sonic odysseys and floating keyboard sounds.
Further into space yet deeper into the earth, the latest Geodesium release, Anasazi, takes space-based stylings into an atmospheric realm of arid deserts, bleached sandstone and ancient temples. Percussive rhythms cut through layered keyboards, flute melodies and fusion elements." — Heartbeats
"This is the fifth Geodesium album, however instead of being written with a 'deep space' feel, this was written to celebrate the vast and ancient quality that our own little world has to offer, whilst still connecting the ancient civilizations with the stars and their inhabitants. There is a strong ancient civilization feel to both the music, the song titles and the cover artwork.
The CD is divided into 2 suites, the Anasazi and the Aztec. The writing is consistently very strong and fresh sounding. This is not just another space album. There is a sense of vision that I found quite compelling, making me want more. Overall an enjoyable and different synth album." — Jim Cornall, Sound Mind Magazine
"In the Anasazi and Aztec suites, Petersen grounds his space music in the canyons, streams, and the ever present play of the sun. The ancient cultures stand as legends here, not distinctly drawn, but their majesty enormously felt.
The music draws you into sheer red canyon walls, the preciousness of water, the destiny of the stars, strong warriors, and towering temples echoing with gongs to engage you in the mysteries of the ancient ones." — Carol Wright, NAPRA Trade Journal
"A perennial PJ fave rave, Geodesium creates space music from the dawn of the second millennium. On this latest aural excursion, two full-side suites jettison galactic chill in favor of the warm hand drum accents from the peoples of the Sun — the Anasazi and Aztec. Impressionistic, sweet, slow-moving melodies are deftly woven with techno punctuation of the most dramatic sort.
You don't have to be a young American primitive to succumb to these sparkling narrative instrumentals, as the irresistible call of pan flutes, wind chimes and nature sounds effortlessly insinuates itself into even the most jaded imagination. Anasazi is a seamless embrace between New Age/World and Space music that radiates both mystery and positive human emotion." — P. J. Birosik, Monthly Aspectarian
"Like the Mark Johnson CD I praised earlier this year, Anasazi opens with a short introduction that reaches out from deep inside the speakers and grabs hold of the listener, pulling him in tightly. Geodesium's fifth CD is the latest from planetarium synthesist Mark C. Petersen, and is comprised of two suites from planetarium shows about the lost Anasazi tribe and the ancient Aztec sky watchers. For these commissioned works, Petersen couldn't use his usual space sounds. Instead he had to create a new library of samples on flutes, drums, wind chimes and voices to evoke the mood of arid deserts and forgotten civilizations.
These new sounds, in the context of Petersen's spacey compositional style, send out waves of serenity, making for a wondrous listening experience. But it's not just about atmosphere. Melodies as sweet as Mannheim Steamroller fill the air. Shadows On Sandstone, for instance, has a particularly pleasant harmonic structure. And the jazzy Sun Dogs burst with effervescence. This CD represents a remarkable step forward in the creative growth of this space music auteur." — Dan Margules, L. A. Jazz Scene
"Mark Petersen, aka Geodesium, is definitely ready for the second millennium. His new CD is comprised of two suites, Anasazi and Aztec. The first suite, Anasazi, begins with a 18 second piece, Call of the Canyon. It's a brief intro which gracefully segues into the title track, Anasazi. Both feature ceremonial drums and Native American Flute solos bathed in a deep resonant reverb. The third piece, Wijiji, continues with this theme, building momentum, with the same instrumentation, but adding a deep resonant bass melody. Up to this point the atmosphere created is similar to that of Dik Darnell's first two albums, a hybrid of traditional Native American instruments, and high tech space. The fourth cut, Water Prayer, is a nice ballad, with the sounds of flowing water, reed pipes, and kalimba (African thumb piano). It leads us into Chetro Ketl, which begins a slight deviation towards western music with the introduction of sampled grand piano, harp, and choral samples. It has some great tidbits of processed percussion thrown in at crucial points in the song. It's grandiose, large scale symphonic work is similar to some of the pieces in John Barry's critically acclaimed "Dances With Wolves" soundtrack. This sets the mood for Chaco Twilight, a grand orchestral work with incredibly beautiful oboe lines carrying the main theme. My only complaint is that the piece is too short. This segues perfectly into Summer Solstice, with rhythmic bass lines supported by nice Fender Rhodes patches, harp, and vocal samples.
You can almost imagine sitting on a cliff overlooking Chaco Canyon, and again getting cut off a little too abruptly. Next Shadows on Sandstone is a dreamy piece with flute melodies carrying the melody, supported by slow rhythmic bass and marimba lines. The liner notes say the flute is Anasazi; if so, Mr. Petersen must own the only one in the world, since this tribe has been extinct for over a millennium. The next cut, Sun Dogs, is a modal jazz piece with flute as lead instrument, similar to the '70s jazz compositions by Paul Horn and Charles Loyd. Very nice bass lines and comping! Next, on to Aztec Suite! Mark subtly eases the listener into this segment with Cycles of Night. The main theme is a classical guitar sample played a little out of range, which comes off sounding like Peruvian harp, but still sounds great. The main melody lines are supplied by soothing pan pipe samples and choral ahhs. At this point I've realized that descriptive notes on the seven remaining pieces could run into pages, a nightmare for my editors. Suffice to say, Mark Petersen has again created a musical masterpiece, full of great melodies, inventive arranging, and a real pleasure for the ears. Those familiar with Mark's earlier releases will find in Anasazi a new awareness, an expansion and culmination of earlier musical ideas. It's a compelling musical journey that I recommend to everyone." — Ben Kettlewell, i/e and DreamsWord
"They say that beauty is in the details. If so, then Stellar Collections is very beautiful indeed. Petersen shows a fine sense of detail in the way he brings tonal elements and subtle effects in and out of the mix. And, unlike many others in the space-music genre, he shows a great gift for harmonic structure. He moves between chord structures and keys with finesse and precision, without ever interrupting the organic flow.
His synth timbres and samples are spacious and delicate and his occasional emulation of acoustic instruments is hauntingly accurate — most notably the cello line in one part of The MarsQuest Collection. His romantic piano work in the opening track, Winter Sunrise, is also noteworthy." — Allen Welty-Green, for Ambient Visions
1993 was the last time there was a new Geodesium CD (!); this one includes music from planetarium shows and projects from 1985-2001, and it is stellar indeed!" — Lloyd Barde, Backroads Music
"This is a monumental achievement in the annals of electronic music. Mark began performing in the pre-digital days so this set includes deep sequences, light sequences, cosmic atmospheres and gentle minimalism. And, while there are some dark passages and sinister riffs, this is not a dark album. It is, in general, a fairly happy set." — Jim Brenholts, author of "Tracks Across the Universe: A Chronology of Ambient and Electronic Music"
"The first of three Planetarium music collections from one of the world's leading space music composers. This music has been "in the can" for quite some time; congrats to Mark Petersen for releasing this excellent space music in its truest form.
"Welcome back, Mark! Stellar Collections is yet another fantastic album from one of the best spacemusic artists around! Spacily melodic at times, ethereal and elegant at others, and always full of unique and characteristic keyboards and samples that long-time Geodesium fans will instantly recognize, Stellar Collections marks the return of an artist who has been sorely missed by fans of this genre (assuming said fans have the good sense and taste to know and appreciate Mark's music).
While some (not all) fans of rhythm-less ambient music may find the more "active" pieces here to be less accessible to their ears, it is precisely this creative and seamless blending of both floating spacers and midtempo cruisers that gives Mark's music its special "something." Very few artists can combine the elements that Mark does and make it all sound sooooo beautiful yet never sugary or melodramatic. This CD showcases his unique talents in composing and performing music that is ethereal, melodic, varied, and as majestic and dramatic as outer space itself.
As any long-time fan of Petersen knows, this fact comes as no surprise; after all, Mark is still the premier composer of soundtracks for planetarium presentations. And Stellar Collections, which gathers together his "best" previously unreleased planetarium compositions from the last two decades, is proof once more that the man has literally no equal. Simply put, Stellar Collections is a stunner — full of soaring keyboards, ethereal flute-like passages, luxurious synth strings, intoxicating rhythms, and a mixture of slow, mid, and uptempo tracks that take the listener racing, cruising, and drifting through the farthest reaches of the galaxy — and beyond.
Opening with "Winter Sunrise," fans will immediately recognize the artist's juxtaposition of piano with synths, dramatic plucked and bowed strings, and stately synth chorus that is trademark Geodesium. As soon as I put this CD on my player and heard the first minute of music, it was like discovering an old friend on my doorstep, inviting them in, and giving them a hug. Damn, it was good to hear Mark again!
Petersen's special forte has always been his ability to blend spacy and electronic drifting tracks with more rhythmic and structured compositions (while still retaining the mystical quality of planetarium music). You hear it on The Andromeda Collection (four of the seven tracks on the album are actually "suites" comprised of "movements," like those in a symphony or a concerto).
The first segment of this particular track is Further Back in Time, and whistling synths caress the song while bell-tones and strings hypnotically weave their web. The second movement, Stellar Collections, starts off slowly with quavers and bell-tones, but becomes more dramatic as it progresses, while The Enormity of Distances (the last segment) is appropriately somber and forlorn, with hushed choruses, bells, and a synth horn that echoes mysteriously.
Perceptions is one of Mark's specialties — a track that combines spacy electronics with percolating rhythms and lively percussive effects without traversing into Berlin-school territory. No one else that I have heard can accomplish this with such ease and assuredness. How Mark composes music that is so likable, accessible, and yet so devoid of any pop or adult-contemporary trappings is beyond me. But, in all honesty, this stuff rocks (in an outer spacy way, of course).
There are three more tracks after Perceptions: (The Voyager Collection, The Distant Worlds Collection, and Laser Bounce) leading up to the album closer, a nearly twenty-five-minute opus titled The MarsQuest Collection, which is new music (composed in 2001). The track has eleven movements and it's a true tour de force for Mark's talents — opening with syncopated beats, heavily echoed flute, synths, and typical Geodesium magic. From there, the cut covers a myriad assortment of moods and tempos, some quite dramatic and some very subdued. A fair amount of this track has a beautiful haunting quality to it (ideal music for reading something like Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles or — one of my faves — Robert Heinlein's Red Planet). Other passages, though, can be overtly uptempo or electronic (such as "Mariner"). In fact, at times, I heard some new wrinkles from Mark (which, given that this is his newest stuff, is not a surprise, obviously). But throughout its twenty-four-plus minutes, the pleasantly familiar Geodesium "vibe" was always present — gently undulating synths, persistent yet never overbearing rhythms, a blend of cosmic and earth-bound musical textures, soothing synth choruses, and engineering that is about as perfect as it can be.
Stellar Collections is proof positive that some things are definitely worth waiting for. After his previous CD, the under-appreciated Anasazi, Mark Petersen disappeared from "recorded" music for awhile. Now that I have had my Geodesium "fix" I hope he doesn't leave us for such a long period again. I don't want to go into withdrawal again!" — Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire
"A Gentle Rain of Starlight is [Mark's] eighth album, filled with 13 music tracks to accompany the star-filled dome. I must say the job has been done well as the music glides through sensitive, light corridors, tapping into an accessible pool of slightly Serrie-kindred sound currents in which softness and romance are always nearby. The overall sound is well done but very mellow, and the varied but recognizable sound palette of the Korg Karma shows up quite a lot as leading voice on most tracks.
So look out for lots of sparkling sound and semi-melodic washes
scattered over all tracks, carrying you away on a peaceful and gentle cosmic
journey. Personal highlight is the great swirling sound textures of
Although Geodesium's music doesn't establish the much deeper celestial sound design of Jonn Serrie, the music as such is surely recommended to any ambient space music fan." — Bert Strolenberg, reviewer, EMPortal
Mark Petersen (Geodesium) is one of those artists with an instantly recognizable "trademark" sound to his music, present since he first started releasing his music back in the mid '80s with West of the Galaxy (he had two releases prior to that but I've not heard them). Part of what separates Petersen (who composes his music for planetarium shows and then releases it on disc) from other space music artists is how he apparently views space as a warm, inviting and friendly place, where any darkness and mysteries are seldom foreboding or scary. I make this assumption because his music is filled with a flowing melodicism as well as a tangible sense of gentle awe and wonder. Another characteristic of his music is how he structures it, relying more on notes and refrains rather than on the more typical (for the genre) pads, washes and textures (although they are all here as well). He also sometimes throws in a more uptempo/upbeat song now and then, another anomaly for the genre.
A Gentle Rain Of Starlight's title should give you a good idea of what to expect: music which cruises gently through the cosmos at a leisurely pace, sometimes speeding up but never to the point of warp speed. The trip is suffused with a sense of peace and wonder, as if one were witness to the beauties of the universe soaring by a starship's viewport. As with previous Geodesium albums, the CD is technically excellent, from the quality of synthesizers and keyboards to the flawless production, mastering and engineering.
With thirteen tracks on the album, describing them all would take way too many words. Winter Stars starts the album off with twinkling echoed and panned bell tones, swirling celestial keyboards and some subdued bass rhythms underneath it all. The bell tones play a repeating refrain but in Petersen's capable hands, it never gets boring (this is also one of the artist's motifs, i.e. the use of refrains within songs, again atypical for the genre).
Star Hop is a light-hearted romp through the blackness, with cascading keyboards set against softly sighing choral and ambient textures. Here, the rhythm is imparted solely through the refrain's tempo, although the occasional synth bass note can be discerned. Opening with what could be the musical equivalent of the titular reference, the title track blends high-pitched tones with lush lower register pads and whistling keyboards. Celestial Solitude shimmers and glides with repeated reverberating notes and softly sighing chorals while Outbound bursts with subtle energy via synth arpeggios and wildly panned bell tones, evoking moving gracefully but at great speed.
One of my favorite tracks on the CD is the seven-minute long The Alcor-Mizar Connection (which I'll assume is an astronomical reference). It has an air of mystery to it with a slight "edginess" and I found the melodic refrain to be particularly pleasing to my ears and I enjoyed how the song evolved over its duration.
I'm loath to mention this, but I'd wager those of you reading this review who think space music needs to be more in an ambient or even dark ambient vein may consider Geodesium's music too "pretty" or "new agey" due to the types of keyboard sounds and the overall positivity of the music. Well, I won't try to change your mind about that, since it's your call, obviously. However, if planetarium directors all over the world think Mark Petersen aptly evokes the cosmos in his music, the guy must be on to something. For me, A Gentle Rain Of Starlight continues Geodesium's streak of "stellar" releases (sorry, I couldn't resist that). If you think it's too pretty, go listen to Stalker or Where the Black Stars Hang. For me, Geodesium's music reminds me why I fell in love with astronomy as kid, and for that sense of wonder and joy, I can't thank Mark Petersen enough. Highly recommended. — Bill Binkelman, New Age Reporter
I've been listening to all of the Geodesium CD's (and I own them as well), and this one stands out from the rest. There is a fresh new sound to this new installment, though it sounds very much like Fourth Universe except that this CD has more depth and emotions to it like never heard before. Listen to Celestial Solitude and Silver Lagoon and you know what I mean. I would highly recommend this CD to just about anyone who likes to add floating space music to their planetarium show at home or at the theatres.
If you like Jonn Serrie's music then you can't go wrong with this release. It has everything. It's fresh, a new classic, has more depth than the other Geodesium CD's and most important I guess, it sounds very personal but I really can't put my fingers on why. Perhaps this is just me. Anyway, excellent work as usual, Mark C. Petersen! Now buy it! — Kristian Persson, on Amazon.com
"I have followed Mark C. Petersen's works since his self-titled CD Geodesium from 1977 to this day, and I have to say that this one stands out from the rest, in a very unique and pleasant way. I love space-music, and this disc, partly, fails to deliver just that. However, it is not Mark's intention to create another follow-up to A Gentle Rain of Starlight, at least not from what we hear on this CD. Instead we get to hear some really intricate and evocative "thrillride" music. Some tracks being quite spacious, that goes along very well along with a Dome Show.
The best thing about this CD is the great variety of themes and melodies, something this CD has tons of, and does it sound good? Oh yes! There's everything ranging from plain and "simple" electronic fusion to some outstanding ethereal and subtle use of 'space guitars' that does its job very well throughout tracks such as Lobate's Scarp and Titanical Gas. Those tracks alone makes it worth buying this CD!
While listening, I can easily imagine myself sitting inside a darkened dome (planetarium if you like), getting ready for the ride of my life as the music progress through with its very infectious rockin' edge to it. Other notable tracks are Europan Ice and Ring Surfer, both being well structured and versatile, both rhythmmic wise and 'guitar' wise. The album itself can be listened to "as is", but I really think it would be perfect inside a darkened planetarium, not during a cosmic space documentary, but during a thrillride in space, in which this album is intended for!
So who will like this CD? Well, basically, from my point of view, anybody looking for something old and something new. Mark's distinctive sound palette can be heard on many tracks, most notably on Depth Perceptions, which is a 'cover' from one of his earlier albums. Also, if you're a long-time fan of Mark's earlier albums and want something completely new and different for your ears, then this is for you!. Most certainly a highly recommended album for all space enthusiasts out there! Get it!" — Tangram's Music Blog
"Excellent work, Mark!" — Jonn Serrie
"Mark C. Petersen is without question and without exception, one of the most prolific composers in the space-music genre today, and once again it shows on his latest installment Stella Novus. This album is definitely one of his very best albums to date, right beside Stellar Collections. It portrays space and the infinity of the universe perfectly with its ethereal and floating sound textures that surround you in a blanket of warm sounds, and takes you on a deep-space cruiser before you know it.
The structure of the tracks is incredibly atmospheric and immersive, and makes you feel as if you really were drifting around to otherworldly places in the galaxy. Good examples are the tracks Protostars and Light Echoes. Both are filled with some of the most beautiful floating synthesizer sounds you are unlikely to hear on any other space-music album out there today. Very haunting atmosphere, yet very peaceful and beautiful at the same time. A visionary's dream come true! Other highly notable tracks are the title track Stella Novus and the last, whopping 30 minute long track, entitled Hubble Suite.
Stella Novus starts off with a colorful sound palette that paints and fulfills the shimmering synth work that breathes emotionally in the background; one to pay attention to if you like a somewhat brighter side of space-music. The last track is my favorite of them all. It's a 30 minute long-form space cruiser that slowly and carefully builds to enormous amounts of ethereal sonic soundscapes that push Mr. Petersen's creative force to his limits, if you ask me. Mark's distinctive synthesized sounds are all over this track and shows off some of his very best work, ever!
Rarely, if ever, do I hear such beauty in space-music, and I'm a 'die-hard' space-music enthusiast. So if you ever thought of, or dreamed about the possibility of travelling without moving to space, then do yourself a favor and buy this album right away. It's the next best thing to actually being there. The verdict is: If you like the albums Fourth Universe and Stellar Collections then this album is a safe bet. It's any space-music enthusiast's dream come true. Stunning work, Mark. Mission complete!" — Tangram's Music Blog
"It's hard to tell what Mark Petersen from Loch Ness Productions is more passionate about: planetariums or music. It doesn't matter to us, however, because he benefits both. He just added another title to his Geodesium discography. Titled Stella Novus, I personally feel it is his best to date. My favorite is Carolyn's Galaxy. It is hard to describe the sense of soaring amazement it makes me feel. In truth, I think it's the answer to the question of Mark's true love." — Sharon Shanks, Executive Editor, Planetarian.
"Like his fellow planetarium composer Jonn Serrie, Mark Petersen (Geodesium) is adept at crafting music which transports listeners out among the stars or to distant planets, riding on layers of flowing synthesizers, sometimes buoyed by percolating beats that pepper the music like stars blinking in an inky black sky. Stella Novus, his new release, features some tracks with a light, airy sound and warm engaging swaths of melody, occasionally punctuated by rhythms, but always overflowing with a sense of the traversing the cosmos. Placement with other space-themed merchandise is encouraged since they are natural tie-ins to stimulate sales." — Bill Binkelman, New Age Retailer.
"Stella Novus, the tenth release by Geodesium (aka Mark C. Petersen), is an album filled with beautifully rendered cosmic music. Following in the footsteps of planetarium show music Geodesium is best known for, the interstellar music unfolds in a spacious, graceful, dreamy and unhurried fashion. Warm textural tapestries of sound and expansive string pads deliver a great floating and comfortable ride, transforming the immense galaxy into a comfortable place to reside. These otherworldly spheres are expressed even better on the final track Hubble Suite, a 30-minute extravaganza in one go, composed for the Hubble Vision planetarium show. All in all, Stella Novus is a perfect fit for any addicted fan of classic space music." — Bert Strolenberg, reviewer, SonicImmersion
"In today's genre of space music, this is an addictive treat. If you're old enough to remember back 40 years ago, Hearts of Space was on the radio every Sunday night. I waited for my weekly journey into outer space. Today, Stella Novus is a harkback to those times while Hearts of Space has gone in a different direction.
Each track is an exquisite experience — not one is the same. The music is visceral, full of images and story. You are irresistably drawn far from this world into a cosmos of thrilling wonder, mystery, and beauty. There are no terrors — only a universe so full of splendor that it makes one long to be released from the bonds of this earth.
Geodesium stirs the imagination and calms the soul. My husband and I use Stella Novus for space dates. An hour before bedtime, we turn off the lights, turn on the music, and let it take us on a galactic sound journey." — Embree Chrichton (on Amazon.com)
Arcturian Archives is Geodesium's 11th album to date, and contains music that was originally created in the 1980s and 1990s. It was a period of time when both the planetarium technology and musical keyboards were undergoing intense technological revolution: planetarium hardware companies were creating new ways to present content on the dome, while and in the keyboard world, new digital synthesizers were coming out. The custom-made scores making up Arcturian Archives captures the musical tenor of those times along the quite revolutionary technological changes while also providing an exciting soundtrack for flights of exploration into the cosmos.
The biggest part of the CD is made up by the "Digistar Suites", presented in two parts of 25 and 11 minutes each. Although its overall sound is a lot thinner than we are accustomed to nowadays, the melodic planetarium music is gently dynamic, shifting through various tempo sections while also containing diverse symphonic hints. A special note on well-rendered Movement 4: starting out in a velvet way it soon fades into nicely sequenced parts before the listener is pulled virtually through a gravity well. The second movement of Suite 2 even introduces some digital drums. The orchestral style vaguely reminds of Synergy, but then overhauled and executed in a cosmic fashion.
In addition, the CD features three renditions of popular orchestral pieces I'm less sure about: Pachelbel's Kanon in D, Resphigi's Pines of the Appian Way, and Geodesium's version of Holst's Mars, the Bringer of War. Despite the fact these have never been heard before, outside of the few planetarium performances for which they were commissioned, they are a bit obsolete, old-fashioned and easy-going to my ears.
The biggest part of Arcturian Archives though is an invitation for all who'd like to revisit those early days of imaginative space music." — Bert Strolenberg, reviewer, SonicImmersion
From Radio Programmers...
"Really great and imaginative music. Very expressive of the peace and limitlessness of space. I'm looking forward to more music from you." — Paul Rath, KDAQ-FM, Shreveport, Louisiana
"I like Fourth Universe the best... the songs, albeit shorter, have more ambient deepness and sound starscapes whereas a lot of West of the Galaxy seems more minimal... Right up there with Froese/Baumann/T. Dream." — Mark K. 'Tarkus' O'Neil, KEOL-FM, La Grande, Oregon
"It's a perfect fit!" — Steve Davis, KKUP-FM, Cupertino, California
"I've placed Fourth Universe into heavy rotation, after featuring Geodesium for a weekend. This new release sounds as professional as any of the mainstream stuff out there. Can't wait till the next one!" — Steve Dahlquist, WSUP, Platteville, Wisconsin
"Provides a wonderful juxtaposition between many styles of music. Some very beautiful pieces stand out on [these] recordings." — Peter Kernast, WTSR, Trenton, New Jersey
"We love Geodesium (well, at least like)." — Tami Sortore, KZUU, Pullman, Washington
"Heavy, regular play — most enjoyable." — Bill Eason, KVCR-FM, San Bernardino, California
"Fine array of my kinds of sounds." — Richie Suraci, Fine Art Productions, Newburgh, New York
"Exciting stuff, played most of the tracks to good listener response." — Victor R. Venckus, WZBC-FM, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
"The drum machine sounds cheesy." — Jake Schumacher, KCAW, Sitka, Alaska
"Anasazi is magnificent! Good listener response from airplay!" — Patricia Bergn, KMSU, Mankato, Minnesota
"Great music, Mark, good variety, too. I'm tracking all of them. Received favorable comments from my audience. Send more!" — Van Roberts, WMUW, Columbus, Mississippi
"All excellent releases, perfect fit for our 'contemporary instrumental' format." — Marty Scarbrough, KASU-FM, State University, Arkansas
"Great! Very sublime! Will be playing most of it!" — Miguel Forjan, WREK, Atlanta, Georgia
"Anasazi is getting light rotation and the earlier albums get played occasionally." — Scott Raymond, WVKR-FM, Poughkeepsie, New York
"I will play your music together with other Americans, for example Mark Dwane and Jonn Serrie." — Tim Van Veen, Radio SLOR, Ridderkerk, The Netherlands
"Anasazi is the best so far!" — Ron Weekes, KTSC, Pueblo, Colorado
"Absolutely Fantastic! All 3 albums will be mainstays on the show. Hummel Planetarium in Richmond, KY — Do they know about you? They should!" — Mark Voigt, WRFL-FM, Lexington, Kentucky
"I just received [Anasazi] from you. It is much more enjoyable than your earlier two works. Several selections will be featured on a future Soundspace program." — Norvel L. Trosst, KPBX, Spokane, Washington
"There is a great deal of new age music coming out." — Daniel Holeman, KVMR, Nevada City, California
"I will be featuring Anasazi, Summer Solstice, The Great Temple and The Warrior Awaits on future shows. I wish you hadn't strayed from the 'space music' idea — seems like every new age artist is doing world-beat flavored tributes to indigenous peoples, the rain forest, or both, usually without much regard for the culture they supposedly portray — just marketing and musical exoticism, frankly. I hope your next release will be DEEPLY ambient!" — Kevin Holm-Hudson, WEFT, Champaign, Illinois
"This stuff is PRIMO!" — Mike Luoma, WIZN, Burlington, Vermont
"Sounds pretty good, but kinda spacey." — Arnold Chin, KUOP, Stockton, California
"It was my pleasure to promptly receive West of the Galaxy. I love it; that's why I'm ordering Fourth Universe (find $17 enclosed). I have eclectic music tastes. I am retired and listen to music 15 hours a day. I have heard West of the Galaxy for 10 hours and can't believe that your music was so mesmerizing. As a hobby, I style cars and I have created more stylings and better stylings today and I attribute it to your music. In my opinion, you, Mr. Petersen, are better than Kitaro, Burmer and Serrie" — Henry D., Terre Haute, Indiana
"All my adult life I have searched for this type of music! I have just purchased Fourth Universe and have already listened to the CD 4 times — and have turned several of my co-workers and neighbors on to this music. It is so uplifting, peaceful and full of promise for a universe full of love and happiness! I have never written a note like this before — but this music truly touched the inner voice of my soul. I am so happy to have stumbled upon this." — Teri O., Marietta, Georgia
"This is my first adventure into new age music and Geodesium Fourth Universe is absolutely supreme. I have to admit I WASTED about $100.00 on other tapes to find the sound and style I prefer. It is also great to have found the perfect Xmas gift this year." — Ray D., Trenton, New Jersey
"I recently had the good fortune to stumble upon the disc Geodesium Fourth Universe while I was visiting my family. It practically leapt off the shelf at me, and after listening to it I knew it was true love." — Noelle W., Davie, Florida
"My son exclaimed: 'Life is worth living for such moments when you listen to a piece of music like that.' This was just when Sailing To Neptune trailed off and I stopped the player to ruminate over the beautiful tune. I could merely nod to express my concurrence. I was too moved to speak." — Aloke M., Calcutta, India
"Stella Novus arrived yesterday and I have just finished playing it for a second time. It's superb. Thank you so much for the enjoyment your music gives us." — Tony P., Cheshire, United Kingdom
"I have all [your CDs] and when in my observatory they are always playing. So fitting to be under the stars with the scope tracking and hearing your great music." — Larry L., Jennison, Michigan
The following interview was conducted via the Internet by Bruce Atchison (his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org) for the U.K. electronic music magazine Voyager (Issue 13, Spring/Summer 1996)
How did you get your start at the Fiske Planetarium?
The planetarium was being built during my senior year at the University of Colorado, in 1975. I had heard they were putting in a recording studio with a synthesizer in it, so I went over to the construction site. I talked with Jim Sharp, who had designed the facility, and he asked me if I had any music he could hear. Since the planetarium was still under construction, we went out to my car and listened to a cassette of some music I'd recorded on the University's Moog modular system. He told me to come back when they were ready to start show production. I did, and worked on their opening show with Jim, called "Stardeath" (the title music appears on the first GEODESIUM album). I eventually came to be Fiske's "composer-in-residence", creating music for more than a dozen show soundtracks from 1975-1978. It wasn't a paid staff position, but Jim said I could use "all the tape I wanted." And I took advantage of that!
In 1976, Fiske hosted a convention of the International Planetarium Society, and Jim asked me to demonstrate the sound studio to the attendees. A lot of interest was expressed by planetarians from around the world who saw the shelves of reels of tape I'd created, and wanted to know how they could get the music for their shows. That was the impetus to begin marketing my music, and I created the first GEODESIUM album using some of the most popular selections of music from Fiske shows. That's how it started.
"What attracted you to electronic music?"
Keith Emerson's "Lucky Man" solo, and Wendy Carlos' "Switched-on Bach".
"Was Anasazi a difficult album to record since the style was different from your previous recordings?"
I don't see the style as being that much different from my previous work. Certainly some of the instruments — the distinctive flute sounds and other tonal textures — weren't used in my previous space music albums. When you're talking "Anasazi", you're not going to use typical "space" synth patches. But, if you listen carefully to Anasazi and in relation to my other work, I think you'll hear a thread of similarity, even though the tunes may be different. It wasn't difficult at all to record "Anasazi"; in fact, it was fun.
"Did any e.m. artists/bands influence you?"
Composers are influenced by many things — not just other musicians. I can't point to one particular artist or band and say they had an effect on my music. Certainly if I heard a group using a synthesizer sound that I liked, it might influence me to try to find out how they did it and what synth created it. Musically, I'm omnivorous. You'd expect a person with a degree in music education to be conversant in all types and styles of music. I've played guitar since junior high school; I was the jazz ensemble guitarist in all my years in high school and college. I've played in rock bands and bluegrass bands. I currently play tuba in a brass quintet. You can't play that wide a variety of music and not absorb influences — just as you can't listen to the radio on a daily basis and not be influenced by what you hear.
I listen to other space music artists, of course — but does that influence my music? I really don't think so. My fingers don't move any better over the keys, or come up with marvelous new melodies on their own, simply because I listen to other artists' music. Sometimes I hear something and think, "I can do better than that." Influence is where you find it.
"What got you interested in astronomy?"
I've been into astronomy since I was a kid. I had a correspondence with H. A. Rey, who wrote "Find The Constellations", a fantastic starter book for children. But by the time that started, I was already interested in stargazing, inspired by the Mercury astronauts. When I was six years old, my family moved to Boulder; I wrote to Scott Carpenter, asking him where he lived, since I knew he was from Boulder. He wrote a personal letter back, giving the address, and telling me what a wonderful place Boulder was. I still have that letter from 1962, on official NASA stationery.
"Why did you pick Loch Ness Productions as your business name?"
It stems from a high school nickname. Besides, you have to call your company something.
"Do you play live with a backing tape or computer, or do you play all the instruments?"
I'm not a keyboard concert artist; I don't do tours, in fact, I haven't done many live performances at all. My music is basically a studio creation. That's where it takes shape, that's where it sounds the best. It's impossible to play all the instruments and tracks in a live performance of a piece that might have taken more than 100 tracks and weeks to achieve in the studio. Then, in a live performance, how is a single musician going to recreate that work with only two hands? And the sound is pumped out a P. A. system that's never as good as the studio monitors — or even a set of headphones. All this so an audience can watch "the magic" of someone trying to recreate a studio creation?
In the planetarium concerts I've done, we bring the lights down and turn on the planetarium effects and lasers and such anyway. I'm no different from, say, the Tangerine Dream artists. It's rather boring to watch a synthesizer player hidden behind stacks of keyboards. Let the visuals go, let the audiences drift off. At that point, there's no "live" element worth all the hoo-raw anyway.
I've seen criticism of other artists who "play along with a tape" in their concerts — but that's the way it has to work. I don't know what else people expect.
You ask "do I play all the instruments"? Who do you think does? Sometimes I guess people must think the keyboards play themselves! I use "digital automation" for my recordings: I move the digits at the ends of my hands!
"Which do you like better, analogue or digital synths?"
That's like asking if I like apples better than oranges. Each type of instrument has its strengths and weaknesses. The artistry one brings to one's composition is to meld the strengths of each keyboard with the others to make a pleasing-sounding whole. The tools used should be irrelevant.
That said, I find my old analog synths are a lot easier to work than the current crop of digital synths. Who has the patience to page through menus and submenus, looking for one parameter to tweak? Give me a knob to twist.
"What are my hobbies?"
I like to take long walks. I enjoy electronic communications with intelligent correspondents. I play in a brass quintet, and occasionally play Renaissance instruments such as recorder with my wife, who studied music for a time.
"Is Infinite Light" for sale now?
Not yet. I'm still debating the content I want it to have.
"Where will your music go stylistically in the future?"
Ahead, I hope!
"Any plans for creating CD ROM planetarium shows for sale to the public?"
It's an idea we've discussed. I can't say more at this time.
"Any plans for live concerts in the future?"
Not at this time.
"How will your music be remembered in the future?"
I'd be happy if it's remembered at all. I'm happy when radio station programmers remember it today by playing it. Fortunately, there are tens of thousands of people out there who like my music right now, so I'm not too concerned about the future. Also, it's probably premature to talk about "being remembered" — it ain't over yet, is it?
"Will e.m. attain the status that classical music has today?"
Beats me. Why should it? Are you holding up either one as somehow superior to the other? Is there a pinnacle to be achieved?
What's the status of classical music? I mean that seriously. Classical music cannot change in and of itself. It's written for orchestras and groups to perform and re-interpret, if necessary. But, those notes written in the past are fixed in the past and the only thing that we see now are endless attempts to "redefine" the music by innovative interpretations and performances. If that's in store for the future of electronic music, then it won't happen. The medium of electronic music is not really live performance, which IS the case for "classical" music.
For one thing, how can someone else perform my music as I have performed it? I don't write a score for publication so that others can perform the music. The recordings I make are one-of-a-kind performances, etched in CD format (or on cassette or LP), and so they are unique. Sure, someone else can attempt to perform my music — or Tangerine Dream's music or any other electronic artist's music — but it will be an interpretation, not the original.
E.M. is probably more analogous to jazz recordings by Dizzy Gillespie or Thelonius Monk. Sure, you could play the same tunes, but it wouldn't be Monk or the Diz performing.
To finish off: "classical music" is really a misnomer. "Classical" really refers to a certain period in the mainly Western European musical tradition — a period that lasted from the late 1700's to the late 1800's, and encompassed such composers as Beethoven, Haydn, etc. There should be a new term to refer to the Western tradition of music that stretches from the last days of the old Roman Empire to the avant-garde and yes, even jazz and electronic. It's just not fair to label the Renaissance music and the late Romantics and the serialism popular in the 20th century under the lump name "classical". And none of it includes the non-European musical traditions that might well be considered "classical" in their own countries.
In any case, it seems somewhat pointless to compare "E. M." to "classical" music — or "country" or "folk" or "New Age" or "rap". It's music — enjoy it.
In 2000, Matt Howarth interviewed Geodesium for his weekly music review column Sonic Space for Space.com. The page was available for over a decade, but didn't survive their 2011 redesign. Here is the text of what was once posted there.
Geodesium: Music for Planetariums
By Matt Howarth
Special to SPACE.com
posted: 05:38 pm ET
13 September 2000
"Geodesium" is a merger of the words "geodesic dome" and "planetarium," describing the environment that gave birth to the music of Mark C. Petersen.
Combining a traditional compositional quality with modern electronics, Petersen has been composing "space music" for use in planetariums (in the USA and 28 other countries) for many years. He has also been commissioned to produce soundtracks for shows narrated by such notables as James Earl Jones, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart.
The chances are excellent that you have experienced Petersen's Geodesium music the last time you frequented a planetarium show, with his lilting instrumental tonalities chasing the starscapes overhead. Now, you can reproduce that experience in your own home (sans the ceiling projections... unless you are into that too).
INTERVIEW WITH MARK C. PETERSEN
SPACE.com: What came first for you, the lure of space or the desire to create music?
PETERSEN: I've been both interested in music as well astronomy and space exploration since childhood. I exchanged correspondence with Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, as well as astronomy author H. A. Rey, before I was seven.
SPACE.com: Once humanity starts traveling through outer space with more regularity, do you perceive music as a necessity or a luxury aboard spaceships?
PETERSEN: I couldn't imagine being stuck in a spacecraft without music to help you maintain your sanity. I composed music for a science fiction planetarium show for the St. Louis Science Center in 1985. The protagonist was a sentient computer controlling a ship of somnolescent crew members on an interstellar voyage. The computer voice was Robin Curtis (of various Star Trek roles). We couldn't just have the hum of the ship's engines for 40 minutes, even though the entire show took place only within the ship's control room. So I had to come up with some ethereal, ambient (this was before today's "ambient") music which followed the mood and scenes of the script, but wasn't obvious otherwise — sort of like the ship had the equivalent of 24th-century Muzak playing. I intend to release that on a future album.
SPACE.com: If you could pick any alien environment to perform in (safely), which would you go for?
PETERSEN: Wherever it is, it would have to have 110V AC power; synthesizers need that [grin]. I'd stick with something simple as the moon or Mars — not so much to perform in, just to be there.
SPACE.com: Your music has such a peaceful quality to it. Have you ever thought of scoring a grittier side of the void? Like a supernova? Or a naked singularity?
PETERSEN: You've only heard what's on the commercially-released Geodesium albums. I've been scoring planetarium soundtracks since 1975. I've blown up supernovae, fallen down wormholes and black holes and recreated the Big Bang — many times over. Our cat, Larry, has slept through the creation of the universe dozens of times.
SPACE.com: What was the last scientific discovery that made you go "Wow!"?
Geodesium: West of the Galaxy (CD on Loch Ness Productions)
Gentle keyboard-driven electronics are the pedigree for this 1987 release. The electronics themselves are quite new age and cosmic, evoking the passage of the celestial heavens.
Even when the pieces on this 58-minute CD build to a heightened tempo with E-perc and compelling melody, these peppier pieces retain a velvety softness that imbues the stars with a friendliness and fanciful charm that attributes them a familiarity which few non-astronauts get to experience.
This friendly-sky aspect is quite evident in this release's title track (MP3 sample). Allowed to slowly unfurl over 16 minutes (considerably longer than the rest of the CD's compositions), this piece transforms an extra-galactic excursion into a relaxing voyage of the imagination.
The sense of awe conveyed by these astral journeys remains calm and non-intrusive, accompanying the listener's attention instead of directing it.
These delicate melodies can function superbly beyond a planetarium's domed ceiling, transforming the listener's living room into a peaceful cosmic environment. As easily as Geodesium's music can elevate the listener to celestial heights, the tuneage is equally capable of generating a comfortable ambience for a lazy afternoon. Pleasantly lush, this music will not distract or intrude upon the listener's concentration.
Geodesium: Fourth Universe (CD on Loch Ness Productions)
With this 58-minute release, Geodesium's music finds itself delivering shorter compositions, compressing the relaxing melodies into more focused impressions of the void.
While some pieces examine aspects of Mars (with "The Mysteries of Mars" (MP3 sample), "Phobos" and "Rhapsody on a Red Planet"), other songs venture beyond our solar system (with "Interstellar Mission", "Around Orion" (MP3 sample), "Galactic Wonders" and "A Sky Full of Galaxies").
The keyboard electronics and softly demonstrative E-perc create floating auralscapes with a distinctly elegant energy, capturing distant vistas and transforming them into easeful melodies. Often shunning the use of cyclic repetition, Petersen injects a classical sense of composition to this electronic space music.
Beyond its obvious planetarium use, this music acts as a bridge for human conscious to cross the vast distances that separate mankind from other worlds. Combining keyboard riffs with astral textures, the songs portray an outer space that is abundant with inspiration and thoroughly non-threatening.
Geodesium: Anasazi (CD on Loch Ness Productions)
For this 58-minute release, Geodesium shifts the sonic perspective from today's great void to the heavens of bygone days. This music was originally composed for two planetarium shows: "The Cosmic Climate Connection", which suggested that th disappearance of the Anasazi culture was a result of environmental changes; and "The Aztec Skywatchers", which dealt with the ancient Aztec culture, for whom the stars were gods and astronomy was a religious art form.
The use of flutes lends an earthy quality to the electronic nature of Petersen's "Anasazi Suite" (MP3 sample), conjuring the spectacular canyon ruins of the vanished Anasazi in New Mexico. Waterworks and languid rhythms enhance this sonic portrait. Mixed with the soft electronics and rich piano, these elements evoke an awe-inspiring sky shimmering through an arid atmosphere. The Suite culminates with a jazz piece (MP3 sample), creating a bridge between the ancient mood and the astral soundscapes.
Likewise, the "Aztec Suite" captures the strength and beauty of that culture, in which stars occupied an important religious place. This connection is excellently captured by Geodesium's fusion of ancient spiritual airs with modern electronics. Again, the flute plays an important part in generating this mood, aided by the delicate strains of harp and Peterson's affable electronic melodies.
Although the Anasazi and Aztec suites exist as cohesive and separate entities, the compositions are broken into shorter pieces which give voice to different aspects of each of these long-silent cultures and their fascination with unknown darkness that lurks beyond our planet.