A Struggle Not a Thought

by Chuck Johnson

supported by
John Cratchley
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John Cratchley My first encounter with Chuck Johnson won't be my last...precise,accurate and deft guitar picking (what I would describe as very 'clean'...)on beautifully constructed frameworks...a real composer's ear,I think.
These songs have a lot of space in them to really breathe...panoramic and also elegiac in feel.
A quietly intense album...slow burn into the memory.

Favorite track: The Flying Spire Don't Have No Mercy.
Tolujin thumbnail
Tolujin A good solo guitar record is as deep as a novel, and as with novelists there are guitarists who floor you with technique you know you could never match, and those that fill you with a fire to do it yourself. Chuck Johnson has technique to burn, but his melodies and figures are like the best dialogue you ever read -- you want to read it out loud, or play it yourself. Favorite track: The Stars Rose Behind Us.
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    Released in 2011 on Strange Attractors Audio House. Price listed includes shipping within continental US. PLEASE ADD $11 FOR CANADA AND $18 FOR UK AND EUROPE.

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From the Strange Attractors press release:
Chuck Johnson is a composer and musician currently residing in Oakland, CA, whose musical acumen and resume is as diverse as it is impressive. He was a member of Spatula, Idyll Swords, and Shark Quest - influential bands in the Chapel Hill independent music scene of the 1990's and early 2000's, and his early influences of North Carolina Piedmont blues and the "American Primitive" approach are widely evident , especially through his contributions to Idyll Swords (Communion/Three Lobed) and Shark Quest (Merge Records). He has composed music for several feature-length documentaries, including Brett Ingram's award-winning films Monster Road and Rocaterrania (as a member of Shark Quest) and Cynthia Hill's Guestworker. In addition to his work as a guitarist, Johnson performs electronic music using homemade and analog instruments, creates interactive and intermedia work with unusual interfaces, and works extensively with just intonation tuning systems - all with an ear towards finding faults and instabilities that might reveal latent beauty. To top it off, he holds an MFA in electronic music from Mills College. For all of these achievements, however, an album comprised strictly of his solo acoustic guitar music has eluded him, although hints have abounded through various compilation albums, the most recent snapshot surfacing last year via the lauded Beyond Berkeley Guitar compilation (Tompkins Square). Long in the making, A Struggle Not a Thought is Johnson's full length debut, an album brimming with sparkling fingerstyle compositions that are just as forward-thinking and jaw-dropping as any revered documents by the steel-string compositional masters, both past and present.

What is truly striking about A Struggle Not a Thought is Chuck Johnson's ability to distill rich vistas and vivid panoramas into succinct compositions - akin to Glenn Jones or Steffen Basho-Junghans at their most concise and lyrical moments. From the initial strumming of chiming steel-string found on opener "Last Moments at Chittor", Johnson evokes an atmosphere of true intimacy, drawing the listener in with his masterful technique and serenading them with chiming currents of steel string beauty. "The Flying Spire Don't Have No Mercy" is a propulsive 12-string cascade spilling into melodic, undulating sound pools, while "The Stars Rose Behind Us" is like a perfect melding of Jack Rose leather and Glenn Jones lace.

Tremendously expressive, A Struggle Not a Thought shows us that a modern steel-string powerhouse has been lurking behind the scenes for many moons now. Here's to inaugurating Chuck Johnson into the pantheon of acoustic guitar players where he quite rightfully belongs.


released November 22, 2010

Music published by Sruti Music (ASCAP)


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Chuck Johnson Oakland, California

Recordings available from VDSQ, Three Lobed, Trouble in Mind, Strange Attractors Audio House, Scissor Tail Editions, Communion, and Amish, among others.

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