East Bay Express Top 12 Bay Area Music Releases of 2017

The Top 12 Bay Area Music Releases of 2017


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.