Strange Attractors Audio House

Listen to A Drink For All My Friends by My Education.  The new album, dropping tomorrow 11/27.  This band is just getting better and better, and after their last release ‘Sunrise’ on Strange Attractors, the band are back with what is some of their most hard-hitting material yet.  A completely underrated instrumental gem from Austin, TX.  Seek them out.

Daytrotter session with Arborea is live! Read the excellent image-rich parable about the band, download a live in the Daytrotter studio session featuring many tunes from Red Planet and some catalog classics, and of course, admire the caricature drawing of Buck & Shanti Curran.

Yair Yona - World Behind Curtains

Go to official page: 

Hear: “It’s Not the Heat (It’s the Humidity)” via Soundcloud:

World Behind Curtains is, in many ways, a befitting title for the exquisite second album by Israeli guitarist/composer Yair Yona.  Tel Aviv is a bustling modern metropolis, but for a musician whose medium is compositional steel-string guitar steeped in a hearty influence from underground/experimental rock and jazz, that locale can feel as isolated and shrouded from the rest of the world as can be. For all of his inherent geographical challenges, Yona has managed to circumnavigate these obstacles by virtue of sheer energy, dedication to his craft, and a spouting fountainhead of creative talent - opening those curtains incrementally wider in the process. His debut, Remember, initially released by the Tel Aviv-based label Anova and reissued by Strange Attractors in 2010, was embraced early on by the grassroots underground solo guitar cognoscenti, and championed by steel string guitar and compositional hero Glenn Jones. Word rippled steadily outward, attracting the attention of Pitchfork’s The Out Door column which tagged it as one of 2010’s best, and Yona nabbed an official invite to perform and speak on a panel at the heralded Hopscotch Festival in September 2011. World Behind Curtains peels back any artificially obscuring veils to reveal an artist blossoming into a profoundly dynamic and expressive composer, with his finest and most ambitious set of tunes to date.

Anchored by chiming steel string guitar, World Behind Curtains marks the ascendance of Yair Yona from solo steel string acolyte into master arranger, pulling the post-Takoma school of playing along with him into beautifully festooned cathedrals of sound. His exuberant attack on the acoustic guitar can be aggressive and ripe with punk rock muscle, only to return with graceful and yearning fingerstyle caresses.  Each of the eight compositions on World Behind Curtains sparkle with multi-instrumental color, alternating between full string arrangements, piano, horns, chimes and splashes of electric guitars.  Yona’s 12-string undulates rhythmically in opener “Expatriates” as it careens into caverns of feedback, only to spill into the gently moving currents of “It’s Not the Heat (It’s the Humidity)”.  A nod to one of Yair’s greatest inspirations, “This One’s For You, Glenn” harkens to Glenn Jones’ cinematic take on the solo steel string tradition, with a forward-propulsion that combusts into a furious pace tempered by the choral yearnings of horns, only to flame out with electric guitar and an abrupt gypsy-like about face. Through the densely layered prism of Yona’s musical perspective, Leo Kottke is melded with Godspeed You! Black Emperor; James Blackshaw collides with Eastern European gypsy music; Robbie Basho finds solace in the enveloping arms of 70’s AOR-style piano arrangements.

World Behind Curtains marks a turning point in Yair Yona’sdevelopment as an artist.  Make no mistake, this is not a steel string guitar album; this is an instrumental record, ambitious and singular in scope.  May it serenade many late-night forays into richly colored realms of self-reflection – with the drapes spread emphatically wide.

  • Yair Yona has been championed by The Out Door (Pitchfork), Dusted, Raven Sings the Blues, Music Emissions, Terrascope Online, Delta-Slider, Work and Worry, Foxy Digitalis etc.
  • Official invite to 2011 Hopscotch Festival; performed live on WFMU with Glenn Jones.
  • Appears on the digital version of We Are All One, In the Sun alongside Meg Baird, Glenn Jones, Arborea, Steffen Basho-Junghans, Fern Knight, Helena Espvall etc
  • RIYL: James Blackshaw, Glenn Jones, Robbie Basho, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Bert Jansch

@yairyona free download: “It’s Not the Heat (It’s The Humidity)” from next album World Behind Curtains.

Th Out Door is without a doubt our favorite column on Pitchfork - really about the most challenging and therefore compelling component of the site, pound for pound. It combines the tremendous talents, knowledge, and impeccable tastes of writers Grayson Currin and Marc Masters.

So imagine our excitement to see The Out Door’s Top 10 ranking of 2011’s best solo guitarists - and it is typically diverse and forward-thinking as we’d expect. To our utter delight, Chuck Johnson received high honors at #3 with his solo guitar debut ‘A Struggle Not A Thought’ - a triumph of guitar soli. And perhaps the Grand Poobah of Strange Attractors, Glenn Jones, caps a monumental year with a #1 nod for his absolutely magnificent debut for Thrill Jockey, ‘The Wanting’. Please give it a read, so many great artists and albums are ranked here (kudos to Cian Nugent whose ‘Doubles’ is a big favorite at Strange Attractors).

Happy Holidays!

Chuck Johnson - A Struggle, Not a Thought

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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 Guitarcompilation (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 on into glistening whirlpools of beauty. “The Flying Spire Don’t Have No Mercy” is a propulsive 12-string cascade spilling into melodic eddies like a po-oriented Robbie Basho, 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. 

*Chuck Johnson is a former member of indie bands Spatula and Shark Quest (both Merge Records) and Idyll Swords (Communion, Three Lobed). 
* Performed with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Kowald, Eugene Chadbourne, Frank Gratkowsi, James Fei 
* Appearances at Siren Fest, BENT 2004, Transmissions Festival, Signal+Noise, the Festival of New American Music, and the San Francisco International Film Festival
* On tour November 2011 with Eric Carbonara, Trevor Healy and Pairdown, East Coast USA.
RIYL: Glenn Jones, Robbie Basho, Jack Rose, John Fahey, Sean Smith, Peter Lang, William Tyler.

The Flying Spire Don’t Have No Me | Strange Attractors

Coming soon on @StrangeAttrctrs by Chuck Johnson:

What a fabulous article on Arborea written by the venerable Jesse Jarnow in Raleigh, NC’s Independent Weekly.  This is in advance of two shows coming up week of 9/5, including a performance at the Artist & Author panel at Hopscotch festival.

Catch the on tour throughout the US:


(1) The Garage (Tea Bazaar if it rains)/Charlottesville, VA 
(2) Sandbridge Island Rest.(w/Charlton Phaneuf & C. Garthright)/Sanbridge, VA 
(3) Kerouac’s (w/Skye Zentz, C. Garthright, Matt Holloman)/Norfolk, VA 
(7) Local 506/Chapel Hill 
(8) Hopscotch Festival (Artist & Author Series)/Raleigh, NC 
(9) 930 Art Center/Louisville, KY (16) House Concert/Chicago, IL 
(17) Monks Kaffee Pub/Dubuque, IA 
(23) KVRX 91.7FM session (Songs for Old Hannah)/Austin, TX 
(23) St Andrews Church (w/Barbara Nesbitt)/Austin, TX 
(26) Seco Pearl (w/The Changing Colors)/Taos, NM 
(27) Laughing Buddha/Crestone, CO 
(30) Walnut Room/Denver, CO 

(3) Velour/Provo, Utah 
(6) Vancouver, BC (tba)
(7/8) Fremont Abbey (w/Shana Cleveland)/Seattle, WA 
(11)Portland, OR Jackpot Records - Instore appearance, Hawthorne location (time TBA) 
(11) The Woods (w/Alina Hardin)/Portland, Oregon 
(15) Jumbalaya Arcata (What The Folk Festival)/Arcata, CA 
(20) KPFA ‘The Hear and Now’(tbc)/San Francisco, CA 
(26) The Crepe Place/Santa Cruz, CA 
(27) Fernwood (w/Levi Strom)/Big Sur, CA 
(28) Hotel Cafe/Los Angeles, CA 

(1) Daytrotter Session/Rock Island, IL 
(5) Stage College/PA (w/Pairdown)

Arborea - Red Planet

Sean Smith ‘Huge Fluid Freedom’ out now!

Hi friends of Strange Attractors,

Sean Smith’s 4th and newest album ‘Huge Fluid Freedom’ is out now!  Lovely cardstock gatefold CD, gatefold LP with download card (1st 100 copies pressed on clear vinyl - mailorder only), and of course the totally uncollectable, yet highly convenient MP3 format.

Sean himself sent out the following missive to his vast colonies of fans.  Rejoice + and enjoy the most ambitious work by Smith yet. 

Hello friends, fans, and colleagues,

After seemingly endless anticipation, my album “Huge Fluid Freedom” is out today. 

Here’s some handy links from which to procure the album immediately:



Strange Attractors Audio House

You can listen to the album on Soundcloud

And read all about it on my new website where you can also gain enlightenment about shows and otherwise too.

Nice reviews here

and here

The album marks a major departure for my work.  Although it does include one solo acoustic piece, it is predominantly an exploration of deeper collaboration and the electric guitar.  It was recorded and mixed by luminary Tim Green at Louder Studio and features performances by Meryl Press, Josh Pollock and Marc Dantona (whom I used to be in Citay with) and of course, long time collaborator Spencer Owen. 

You can now follow my show updates and other brief mentions on Twitter

For those of you who are always sick of getting my emails, please reply with your request for removal.  This message is a special case in which I just grabbed addresses from anyone I have ever exchanged words with in order to get this word out!  Thanks so very much.


Daytrotter does their thang for the recent My Education/Theta Naught collaboration project ‘Sound Mass’. The seeds of this came about while My Education were on tour last year.  When they hit Salt Lake City, the band hunkered down with Theta Naught, whom they never met before but became connected through TN”s fandom of My Education, and let the improvised smok tendrils unfurl.  Since, the two bands have performed ‘Sound Mass’ at SXSW and at the Austin Psych Fest 4.  Experience the depths of unbridled improv psych rock.  Incredibly well done.My Education/Theta Naught Daytrotter caricature