A Thin Silence

by Jeff Johnson

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Inspired by the I Kings 19 story of the Prophet Elijah hearing God's voice in a thin silence, here is music for stillness and quiet contemplation featuring ten piano based instrumental prayers and the chanted Celtic Lorica, "Circle Me."

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire a sound, a thin silence.
– I Kings 19:11b-12 (ESV)

Jeff Johnson: Keyboards & vocal
Tim Ellis: Electric guitar

Music Reviews –

Possibly the best New Age CD I've heard released in 2006 yet, A Thin Silence is not from an artist I was expecting to knock my socks off. Sure, Jeff Johnson has had a good career playing mostly Celtic-inspired music (most notably with flutist Brian Dunning), but this album finds Johnson in new territory. Inspired by the story of the prophet Elijah hearing the voice of God, Johnson has created a minimalist and ambient recording of sublime and introspective beauty.

The first 10 tracks are piano-based, often just a few notes and a short and simple melody with faintest instrumental support. Each note often feels naked in silence, as you'll hear in the title track. Other tracks on the recording run the emotional gamut from darkness, sadness, and grief to optimism and hope.

The final piece, "Circle Me," though a well-sung chant by Johnson himself, seems a bit out of place, but it also could be seen as a logical ending to his musical journey. Discover this serene treasure...
– Peter Manzi/New Age Retailer (January 2007)

ECM Records used to have a slogan, "the most beautiful sound next to silence." Jeff Johnson approaches that aesthetic on a new CD called A Thin Silence. We've known Johnson's music for years through his Celtic inflected work with flutist Brian Dunning and his many orchestral-electronic CDs like Prayers of St. Brendan. But nothing prepared us for this album of ambient piano and orchestrations.

A Thin Silence taps into modes of contemplation and spirit. For Johnson, that's inspired by the story of the prophet Elijah and his position as a Selah worship leader. Selahs are meetings of silent contemplation, prayer and music. But just as you don't have to be a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church to appreciate the music of Arvo Párt, you don't have to follow Johnson's Christian faith to be submerged in these deep atmospheres.

All the music starts on piano, as Johnson plays out sparse melodies and echoing chords that recall the pioneering work of Harold Budd. He surrounds them with atmospheres that shift and rustle like distant voices calling out from the edges of consciousness. Tracks like "Bright Sadness" bring in electric guitars from Tim Ellis, tolling a mournful refrain against sparse percussion loops while "Heaven's Door" seems to open up to new vistas as Johnson again brings in a quietly surging percussion track against shimmering, slow motion glissandos...one of the most serene albums of the year.
– John Diliberto/Echoes (June 2006) One of Echoes Top 25 CDs of 2006

While some musicians lose inspiration as they get older, others - like Johnson - seem to learn with each release and make better music, as his "Vespers" release bears out.

Inspired by the story of Elijah hearing God speak in the stillness, this disc offers a spiritual chillout. Its whole mood is like a stripped-down version of his early collaborations with Irish flautist Brian Dunning, even down to the way this instrumental album is closed by a single vocal prayer (although some find this disappointing as it breaks the mood).

It is hard to know whether melody, atmosphere, sense of space or use of the dynamic range is the strongest of Johnson's talents. All through this excellent release he sets high piano notes against reverberating low tones, leaving them to bathe in plenty of space.

On "Angel of the Dawn" slow piano arpeggios saunter over a low rumble, joined by Johnson's trademark reedy synth tone and a percussion tick that seems to come from somewhere else in the room.

In its fragile beauty, it is not far from the feel of Brian Eno's Music for Airports, but with far more warmth and heart.

This is top-rate minimalism that blows away the chaff of unnecessary noise, while keeping the melodies intact. It aims to be music for meditation, but fully stands up to listening for its own sake.
– Derek Walker/The Phantom Tollbooth (March 2007)


released March 15, 2006

Music by Jeff Johnson ©2006 Sola Scriptura Songs (BMI)
Publishing administered by www.music services.org

Produced, recorded & mixed by Jeff Johnson at The Ark; Camano Island, WA

Mastered by John Golden Mastering (www.goldenmastering.com)

Cover painting “Angel of the Dawn” by Michael O’Brien
Sun and moon and stars, praise the Lord! The holy angels guide the movements of the heavens and praise God through them. All creation praises the Lord, even though mankind sleeps, unheeding. The little shepherd will soon awake and pasture his flock. – Michael O’Brien (www.studiobrien.com)

Cover design by www.PattonBros.com

With deep gratitude to Michael O’Brien for his art and faith, to Murray Watts for inspiration, and to Julee Glaub for the beautiful Lorica.

For Kim & Rebecca


"A Thin Silence" is also available on iTunes and Amazon.


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Jeff Johnson

ArkMusic recording artist, composer, producer, and Selah worship leader has released numerous solo recordings along with collaborations with Irish flutist, Brian Dunning inspired by Stephen Lawhead's novels and guitarist, Phil Keaggy. View Jeff's complete discography here: www.selahservice.com/2015/05/jeff-johnsons-arkmusic-discography/ ... more

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Track Name: Circle Me
CIRCLE ME (Lorica)
Traditional Celtic prayer of protection

Circle me, O God, let your arms enfold me.
Circle me, O God, let your love surround.
Circle me, O God, let your light shine brightly.
Circle me, circle me, O God.

Circle me, O God, when I’m weak and weary.
Circle me, O God, when despair is near.
Circle me, O God, let your peace surround me.
Circle me, circle me, O God.

Circle me, O God, when I’m tüired and restless.
Circle me, O God, be my hope, my strength.
Circle me, O God, let your presence guide me.
Circle me, circle me, O God.