Chas Smith — Descent
(Cold Blue CB0023, 2006, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2006-05-01Like opening a portal into a dreamworld, Chas Smith’s music pulls the listener in immediately. The disc contains two sidelong tracks and a shorter ten minute closer, all explorations in electroacoustic minimalism and adventurous ambient dronescapes. His main instrument is steel guitar, but you won’t hear much of it here except when heavily processed beyond recognition. Likewise the flutes, zither, voices, and an array of home-made instruments all contributing to the maelstrom of sound that swirls and churns at several levels in densely layered clusters that morph slowly as they evolve. Less than five minutes into the opening title cut, the sound begins to drift off into a microtonal world, almost as if someone is carefully manipulating the tape speed for maximum disorienting effect. And who would have thought that music could be made from the sounds of jet planes as heard from the ground? But that’s exactly where we go on the second track, with multiple jet planes processed through notch filters and overlaid into a thick blanket of sonic peril, sounding much like the fabric that holds the universe together coming unglued. In time the planes are joined by other mysterious sonic events and textures as the piece evolves, unfolds, and eventually transforms into something more peaceful and serene. While much of the production here amounts to smoke and mirrors, it’s not the processes that are important, but instead the end result, and on that level Smith succeeds brilliantly.
Related artist(s): Chas Smith
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more