The new duo of Marielle Jakobsons and Chuck Johnson craft an ambient Americana panorama on their debut album The Ground Our Sky. 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.
Both based in Oakland, California, the meeting of Jakobsons and Johnson marks a collaboration between two seasoned musicians. Marielle Jakobsons has released with crucial labels Thrill Jockey and Mexican Summer, and is a highly skilled and classically educated violinist and theorist, graduating from the prestigious Iannis Xenakis school of Computer Composition in Paris among other renowned academies. Chuck Johnson is known primarily as a film and TV composer; his score work has included soundtracks to HBO and PBS productions and feature films. He has also released numerous albums both solo and in bands on labels such as Tompkins Square, Trouble in Mind, Strange Attractor and Kompakt.
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 cofounded 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.