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
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more