“(Johnson) creates a kind of country post-rock. It feels like a universe unto itself.”
“The rise of ambient country…(Johnson’s) a part of a new crop of artists who emphasize abstract expression over linear narrative and conventional structures…a legacy that joins the dots between country and post-rock, experimental music and world-class pedal steel.”
“Hints of Reichian minimalism, spacey Tangerine Dream kosmische, Eno-esque ambience and hypnotic New Age.”
Chuck Johnson is a composer and musician residing in Oakland, CA. He approaches his work with an ear towards finding faults and instabilities that might reveal latent beauty, with a focus on pedal steel guitar, experimental electronics, and composing for film and television. Recordings of his work have been published by VDSQ, Thrill Jockey, Temporary Residence, Kompakt, Ghostly, Trouble in Mind, Scissor Tail, Merge,and Three Lobed, among others.
Between 2011 and 2015 Johnson released a triptych of solo guitar LP’s – A Struggle Not A Thought, Crows in the Basilica, and Blood Moon Boulder, that have become touchstones of the post-Takoma Records solo acoustic guitar format. Balsams – his pedal steel guitar debut – delivers what Pitchfork has described as “singular,” and “a mournful hymn built out of layers of sliding strings, cascading with a zenlike stateliness…” In 2019 he joined forces with Marielle V. Jakobsons to release their debut LP as Saariselka for Temporary Residence Ltd.
He has toured internationally and performed at the Hopscotch Music Festival (Raleigh, NC), Sydney Festival, Debacle Fest (Seattle), the Liverpool Festival of Psychedelia, the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Siren Fest (New York), BENT (New York) and the San Francisco International Film Festival. Johnson’s credits as a film composer include scores for the HBO documentary Private Violence and the popular PBS show A Chef’s Life. In 2009 he received an MFA in Electronic Music and Intermedia Art from Mills College.
The follow-up to Johnson’s acclaimed Balsams LP, The Cinder Grove (feat. Marielle V. Jakobsons, Sarah Davachi, Hilary Lewis and Crystal Pascucci) delves further into the compositional possibilities of the pedal steel guitar. This halcyon collection of tracks draws on a wider palette of sounds, adding strings and piano, to dive deeper into the sound bath of Johnson’s meditative music.
Johnson is available for solo sets, commissioned works, and collaborative sets.