Saariselka is a collaboration between two pioneers of ‘ambient Americana’, Chuck Johnson and Date Palms’ Marielle V. Jakobsons. With the former playing pedal steel guitar and the latter on synthesisers, the duo’s debut album The Ground Our Sky explores those horizons where the earth beneath our feet meets the celestial heavens.
Limited Vinyl LP £24.99 TRR336LPC1
Limited edition, indies only dark blue coloured vinyl LP on Temporary Residence.
- Coloured vinyl
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CD £11.99 TRR336CD
CD on Temporary Residence.
Vinyl LP £21.49 TRR336LP
Black vinyl LP on Temporary Residence.
- Includes download code
On 'The Ground Our Sky', Californian duo Saariselka (Marielle Jakobsons and Chuck Johnson) prove that they can turn out lush vistas of ambient Americana at the drop of a hat. Every one of the record’s six tracks is a rich reverie of droning synths, woozy pedal steel guitar and shimmering keyboards. It’s a sound that coddles and cuddles you, conjuring up visions of a lone cowboy who, farting occasionally from a campfire dinner rich in beans, lays down with his knapsack as a pillow and gazes up at a night sky full of stars. Though genre-wise we’re closer to someone like Dallas Acid, acts as various as The Antlers, Angelo Badalamenti and Sigur Ros are all recalled by the Saariskela style.
The problem with The Ground Our Sky is that it never deviates from this mode. While a perfectly pleasant sound, it’s not necessarily one which can sustain attention across a forty-minute LP. Occasionally Jakobsons drapes some breathy singing over the top of things, an effect that steers the record into the same territory as Low, but even then we’re basically still out on the wide-open plains. Come closer ‘Afterlight’ you’re longing for a bit of sturm und drang, something to inject a bit of life into proceedings.
While 'The Ground Our Sky' paints one vivid picture, it would have been nice if it could have given us a bit more to look at as well.
Saariselka is a collaboration between Chuck Johnson and Marielle V Jakobsons. It's a marriage of solid ambient music, some beautiful slide guitar, and a Fender Rhodes piano. It's a canny move to keep the ambient sections fairly traditional because for it to be anything else would disrupt the whole feel of the record.
The slide guitar is something that needs to be used more in ambient music. It mirrors the kind of swells that are very common in the genre but there are all kind of harmonic overtones and little irregularities that make it much more tangible and organic. I also love the introduction of Rhodes piano. There's something about the combination of that squelchy Rhodes and slide guitar that's very soporific. I can imagine drifting round a fjord on a mighty unmelting iceberg while listening to this (Greta, I know this metaphor is improbable but just go with it! Love your work).
My favourite piece from this album is 'Void' which has some soft, breathy vocals that sit perfectly in the warm, hushed ambience. I also love 'Afterlight', with its trickling synth motifs, squalling slide guitar part, and the feel of some cavernous, frozen Arctic landscape (Greta, I know).
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