Boomkat Product Review:
Quietly captivating synth and clarinet meets strung out guitars with panoramic scope in the debut album by members of US avant-garde/psyche visionaries, Golden Retriever and their improvising counterpart Chuck Johnson. Someone needs to give these guys a soundtrack commission, pronto!
“Golden Retriever and Chuck Johnson are artists unified by their ability to build entire ecosystems of sound. As Golden Retriever, bass clarinetist Jonathan Sielaff and synthesist Matt Carlson erase the boundaries between their respective instruments using carefully selected effects and masterful intuitions as improvisors. Chuck Johnson is a guitarist lauded for his expertise in crafting a diversity of atmospheres, be it through fingerstyle acoustic or droning pedal steel. The combined powers of the trio is intoxicating. On their debut album, Rain Shadow, Golden Retriever and Chuck Johnson combine slowly shifting instrumental layers with clouds of melody and texture, punctuated by vivid emotional peaks. By compounding minimalist approaches into maximalist compositions, the trio evoke images of a vast open desert and a cloudless sky, the zen of a simple, clear horizon coupled with the power of the infinite.
Rain Shadow’s title is taken from the natural phenomenon which leaves plains and shallow land just beyond mountain ranges desolate and dry. Each piece moves with the ease and progression of a cloud formation. Looming towers of density slowly drift from one direction to another without a predictable destination. Inside the wash of ever-building layers of harmony, subtle hints of movement propel them forward. The album’s A side evokes the beauty and solace of open spaces with lush beds of pedal steel chords and deliberate melodies traded between synthesizer and bass clarinet. “Lupine” twirls baroque motifs into elastic rounds. Sielaff’s increasingly distorted winds on “Sage Thrasher” gradually guide the ensemble towards the overcast deluge of the album’s second half. With each passage the trio utilize steady, imperceptible motion akin to a desert’s wind eroding stones into new configurations.”