Having quietly announced their arrival with last year’s Ceres EP—an immediate standout in the sorely overlooked deep listening series Longform Editions—Saariselka hit the ground drifting on their heady debut album. Ambient music in a meditative state in mind, The Ground Our Sky is the sum of two perfect parts: guitarist Chuck Johnson and synth/piano/organ sculptor Marielle Jakobsons. Both are solo artists who released stellar records in recent years (Balsams, Star Core), but here they sound as if they’ve been a band for at least a decade. As Johnson recently put it on Twitter, “This is the most fruitful musical collaboration I have ever had.”
While their last recording was inspired by the reduced visibility and heightened rhythms of whiteouts, The Ground Our Sky embodies a graceful into-the-great-wide-open ethos, wrapping Johnson’s wistful pedal steel parts around Jakobsons’ astral projections with an innate sense of space and time. By letting each of their elements breathe, and bringing Jakobsons’ moonlit vocal melodies into the mix on two occasions (“Into the Wind,” “Void”), Saariselka doesn’t feel like a collaboration between dueling forces, but a fully formed entity, channeling the sublime moments of stillness and peace. It’s the feeling you get when you’re out in the desert and the sun goes down, or when the Northern Lights suddenly appear overhead. All you have to do is look up and listen.