Press Kit


Chuck Johnson Solo Guitar Tour Spring and Summer 2013
Crows In The Basilica LP(TLR-099) released on Three Lobed Recordings May 14, 2013


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 American Primitive fingerstyle guitar, experimental electronics, and minimalist composition. Recordings of his work have been published by Strange Attractors Audio House, Communion, Amish, Merge, Umbrella, Phaserprone, Squealer and Three Lobed.

Johnson has performed with Eugene Chadbourne, Frank Gratkowsi, Peter Kowald, Miya Masaoka, and Pauline Oliveros, among others. He has performed at the Hopscotch Music Festival (Raleigh, NC), the San Francisco Electronic Music FestivalSiren Fest (New York), BENT (New York), the Festival of New American Music (Sacramento), Music for People and Thingamajigs (San Francisco), and the San Francisco International Film Festival. Johnson’s credits as a film composer include scores for several feature-length films, such as Brett Ingram’s award-winning Monster Road and Cynthia Hill’s Guestworker. In 2009 he received an MFA in Electronic Music and Intermedia Art from Mills College.

Johnson views his current work – both electronic and acoustic – as folk minimalism.  In 2010 he was featured on the Tompkins Square compilation Beyond Berkeley Guitar and in 2011 his solo acoustic guitar debut A Struggle Not A Thought was released on Strange Attractors Audio House. In May 2013 his follow-up solo LP Crows In The Basilica will be released on Three Lobed Recordings.

“A first glance, the titles on Chuck Johnson’s Crows in the Basilica suggest an artist both aware of and in touch with his surroundings. There are mountains, creeks, sand; towns, streets, basilica; crows, geese. Skim Johnson’s liner notes and this sense of outward attention expands. Songs are based on raga improvisations and Chinese melodies, the Piedmont Blues of Carolina pioneer Elizabeth Cotten and the mountain guitar of Appalachian legend Roscoe Holcomb.

Johnson’s unity of thought and feeling crests during the album’s apex, “On a Slow Passing Ghost Town.” Opening with an instantly classic melody, it spends a serene, thoughtful eight minutes evoking every idea and emotion you can imagine, and a few you can’t. Here Johnson’s already-formidable patience approaches the super-human; even when the tune starts to roll and rush, he’s so in control of every nuance that I was convinced I’d heard the song before, so timeless and utterly natural is its path. I can see the ghost town passing; I can hear its rustle and smell its fog. But I can also feel it bending my bones and shifting my pulse. That’s the peculiar power of Crows in the Basilica: whether its effects are physical or emotional is impossible to figure, and unnecessary too.” – Marc Masters


“Joyful yet cerebral, the new record spirals melodic phrases in and out of the depths; it’s like a gentle hurricane at sea. At eight minutes, the deceptively quiet “On a Slow Passing in Ghost Town” is a raga that rages moodily. Johnson builds his work around patterns that ripple and rattle like the guitar strings themselves. Sink in, and it becomes a haunting prayer that unravels before your ears.” – Lars Gotrich, NPR’s All Songs Considered

“He’s had plenty of time to figure out what he wants to say and get everything extraneous out of his system; some of this music is quite technically demanding, but that’s never what you notice about it. Johnson manages to very clearly demarcate an inherently mysterious form of music… he’s working hard to help you dream.” – Bill Meyer, Signal To Noise

“His succinct, spry meditation for acoustic guitar, “A Struggle, Not a Thought”, is a highlight of Beyond Berkeley Guitar, a rich collection of wildly imaginative acoustic guitar work released by Tompkins Square…” – Grayson Currin, Pitchfork

“The honeyed drone of Johnson’s thrumming low notes was a constant above these small interruptions. Notes poured from his guitar, accumulating until a pregnant pause scattered them. At one point, it seemed as if someone was bowing another instrument to accompany Johnson, so rich were the overtones drifting above the ragtime melody.” – Bryan Reed, The Independent Weekly

“Chuck Johnson’s ‘A Struggle, Not a Thought’ is both pensive and dynamic, balancing sound and silence, and hinting at 20th-century classical techniques and methods.” – Kevin Macneil Brown, Dusted

“The highlights, though, are “Caldera Wires,” which is ringing and epic, pausing to let itself echo, a short rest before the next huge poetic expression, and “Ochre Rubric,” a memorable song that is poetic and reflective, at once wistful and daring, a rolling mini-epic with-great feel of memory and summation.  These two tracks cover the range of Johnson’s vision, and it is broad and stunning.” Music Emissions

Chuck Johnson’s classical tilt, virtuoso touch and brilliant compositional skills have been unleashed on the solo guitar audience.  The 12-string guitar pieces really are the work of a virtuoso. Chuck Johnson’s picking is clean, exact and pure.  Certainly the production work is equally to be credited here, some of these pieces I feel as though Johnson is sitting right in front of me coaxing these amazing compositions from wood and wire.” – J. Scott Moore,­ Delta-Slider


Chuck Johnson:
“Closing Credits” on And to the Disciples that Remain compilation (Amish Records) 2006
“A struggle, not a thought” on Beyond Berkeley Guitar compilation (Tompkins Square) 2010
 A Struggle Not A Thought LP (Strange Attractors Audio House) 2011
Crows In The Basilica LP (Three Lobed Recordings) 2013

with Idyll Swords:
Idyll Swords LP (The Communion Label) 1999
Idyll Swords II  LP(The Communion Label) 2000
Purposeful Availment EP (Threelobed Recordings) 2002

with Shark Quest:
Gods and Devils LP (Merge Records) 2004

as Pykrete:
Over Hylaster  LP (Cirrus Oxide) 2004
Southern Man + Pykrete No More Love to Give LP (Phaserprone) 2006
Liber Novus 2xLP (FrequeNC) 2010

with Micro-East Collective
Fabric LP (Umbrella Recordings) 2001

as Ivanovich:
Solo Guitar LP (Amish Records) 1999

with Spatula:
Even the Thorny Acacia LP (Jesus Christ) 1994
Medium Planers and Matchers  LP(Jesus Christ) 1995
Under the Veil of Health EP (Squealer Music) 1996
Despina by Land LP (Squealer music) 1998­