Steven R. Smith Crown of Marches CD
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Steven R. Smith is best known for his participation in Thuja and Hala Strana as well as his contribution to many Jewelled Antler projects. Until now, however, his recordings under his own name have remained somewhat under the radar.
In Thuja, Smith and his compatriots built up delicate soundscapes by improvising on whatever happened to be nearbytraditional musical instruments, hand-built sound makers, and ordinary objects. In Hala Strana, on the other hand, Smith focused more on existing compositionsusually evoking Eastern European folk melodiesand employed more traditional set of instruments. Crown of Marcheshis debut for Catsup Plateis a single, epic, forty-minute track: Smith balances the composed and the improvisational and the result is as ecstatic, beautiful and compelling as music can get.
In the spirit of Keiji Haino, Popol Vuh, Dead C, and Flying Saucer Attack, Crown of Marches takes the possibilities of the basement psychedelic guitar excursion and fashions something very new and inspiringa piece alternately beautiful and overwhelming.
Crown of Marches begins with a low rumble of feedback and speaker hum; a lazy eastern melody pokes through the haze and establishes a strong contrast with the rumbling. This is the basis upon which the piece will expand and contract over the next 40 minutes. At times the feedback rumble drops away and relatively bright guitar lines come to the fore. At other times faint keyboard lines or bowed cymbals add texture and additional gravitas to the proceedings, only to be pushed away with the wail of distant guitars and more distortionlike the heaviest rock with the skeleton removed. The feedback eventually drops away, leaving moments of only bells and the warmth of roomtone. And so the piece goes, rising and falling, until, at the end, we are left with the initial set of rumble and lazy melodies peaking through the haze. In the end, Smith brings us full-circle through chaos, melody and intensity and deposits us back into the world.