SAARISELKA

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“It is quite rare for two artists with successful solo careers to team up for a genuinely strong collaborative project that offers a fresh vision” Brainwashed

The new duo of Marielle Jakobsons and Chuck Johnson craft an ambient Americana panorama on their debut album, The Ground Our Sky (Temporary Residence 2019).

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 between composers Marielle Jakobsons (Fender Rhodes, organ, synthesizers) and Chuck Johnson (pedal steel guitar and treatments) is as expressive as it is enigmatic. On their debut album, The Ground Our Sky, a kind of new ambient Americana is unearthed and explored. The respectively singular artistry of Jakobsons (who previously co-founded the beguiling Date Palms) and Johnson collectively craft a universe of remarkable resonance. It is a vibrant, seemingly infinite sway of sounds that exists unmoored in time and space. The Ground Our Sky gets its lift by pondering the universe not while staring up at the sky, but rather down at the ground – gazing into the earth, where we are all individually and collectively a meeting of the ground and the sky. This inverted perspective is at the heart of Saariselka’s music. That feeling of becoming ungrounded is universal and inevitable – and increasingly necessary to seize those rare opportunities for meaningful changes in perspective.

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. As a solo multi-instrumentalist, and with her bands “Date Palms“, “Myrmyr“, and other collaborations, she has published recordings and toured internationally on Thrill Jockey, Mexican Summer, Students of Decay, Digitalis, Important Records, among others. Marielle received her BA from Case Western and the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied contemporary piano performance with Anita Pontremoli. Prior, she studied violin with Yoko Moore, assistant concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra. After CIM, she traveled to Paris, France to study towards a graduate certificate in computer music composition at the Center for Computer Composition of Iannis Xenakis (CCMIX). At Mills College, she was awarded her MFA in 2006, as well as the Elizabeth  Mills Crawford Award in Composition. She has been awarded the Djerassi Artist Residency, Dresher Ensemble Artist Residency, Brush Creek Foundation Arts Residency, American Composer’s Forum Grant, and NEXMAP Sounding Out California Composer’s Award.

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 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. 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 format. Balsams – his most recent album and 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…”