8. Chuck Johnson, Basalms (VDSQ)
Though trained as an electronic musician, Oakland artist Chuck Johnson has earned a reputation as a so-called “American primitive” guitarist, prizing John Fahey-inspired devotion to unusual, self-taught acoustic guitar techniques. He likes challenges. And Velvet Arc, from 2016, featured initial experiments with a new one: pedal-steel guitar. Basalmsforegrounds the instrument, mingling its polished glisten with vibrant synth in gossamer passages, all suffused with tape delay. The through-line of his increasingly diverse yet consistently stellar discography seems a patient, ascetic sort of mysticism.