There is an old Norse myth that says the great northern glaciers stored energy until they burst with fluorescent light, creating the Aurora Borealis. Saariselka is inspired by the meeting of earth and light, where slowly moving land masses merge with enveloping light fields. This sonic collaboration is between composers Marielle Jakobsons (Fender Rhodes, organ, synthesisers) and Chuck Johnson (pedal steel guitar and treatments).
Chuck Johnson is an Oakland, California based composer and musician. He approaches his work with an ear towards finding faults and instabilities that might reveal latent beauty, with a focus on guitar, experimental electronics, minimalism and soundtrack composition. Recordings of his work have been published by VDSQ, Trouble in Mind, Scissor Tail, Merge, and Three Lobed, among others.
Marielle V. Jakobsons is a composer and intermedia artist based in Oakland, CA. Her compositions evoke minimalism with melodic drone and enveloping polyrhythmic soundscapes of synthesizers, strings, and voice. She has published recordings and toured internationally on Thrill Jockey, Mexican Summer, Students of Decay, Digitalis, Important Records, among others.
Ceres is inspired by whiteouts, where the rhythm of your breath and body become a container for experiencing the fine gradations of your surroundings. The process of creating this piece was one of learning how to get out of the way, and of emphasizing the use of space and decay to alter one’s perception of time. With a skeleton formed by a simple chord progression, we focused on the compelling sonic subtleties of the pedal steel guitar, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and a Yamaha electric organ.
One of the many profound lessons I learned from my studies with Pauline Oliveros was the concept of truly existing inside the sound. Rather than thinking about a sonic structure as a horizontal timeline as in a score or audio editing software, or as a vertical stack of frequencies as depicted in a spectrogram, Oliveros’ approach invites us to exist inside a piece as if it was a three dimensional structure that surrounds the listener like a sphere. In fact, in her meditation exercises she encouraged participants to think of any sonic environment as a composition that is always available if one is willing to listen. These ideas inform my music making to this day. (Chuck)
The sub-genre of Ambient Americana is going from strength to strength because of releases like this.
Chuck Johnson's slide playing like a silvery spider web, whilst Marielle Jakobsons' voice and keyboards an ethereal cloud.
What this album offers is a genuine 'deep listening' experience, as blissful, meditative and compelling as its gorgeous cover image.
From the first note to the last, this is haunting, life-affirming music. Let it lift your spirit and carry you away. Michael Mueller