RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

CD Feature/ Chas Smith: "Nakadai"

img  Tobias

The overall orientation of Nakadai, originally released in 1987, is towards density and slow, gliding drones, the kind that pick you up and mesmerize for their tonal variation and knowing expression. Over these four tracks, Chas Smith's multi-tracked pedal steel guitar explores a defined frequency range with an even-handed finesse. Coupled with an immediate sense of trust and a relaxed communion between himself and the other musicians on percussion, this manages to afford the work a coherent flow and balance.

The title track itself brims with round, carefully sculpted layers that proliferate and resound together in concert. Smith adopts a sparser approach for the next composition, "Hollister", it's tension imminent rather than apparent, opening up more air and space, until the very end where it suddenly closes up like a faltering lung. Joined at the hip, the closing pair of compositions, "A Judas Within Seduction" and "Betrayal", feature a broader array of instruments, from Smith's trademark pedal steel guitar, to vibraphone, marimba, and hammered dulcimer. Both unfold as thick masses of vapor, in which the listener can only just hear the texture of each instrument against the others. In these two works, the delayed and pent-up tension of past movements is slowly released, as space solidifies into a tangible mass, time largely collapses, and individual voices, without fully losing their singularity, are organized into a spellbound, instinctive swell.

Adding a new polyphony of noise events, the two previously unreleased tracks, "Ghosts on the Windows" and "Joaquin Murphey", display the after-effects of Smith's own exotic instrument concoction, The Towers, which is used to further manipulate his trusted pedal steel. While still in keeping with the spirit and tradition of the aforementioned titles, these two pieces do indeed manage to open up different galaxies of texture. Once more, though, Smith remains clearly in control. With this re-release he shows that he not only has a well-conceived aesthetic, but the discernment and rigor to see it through to new heights.

By Max Schaefer

Homepage: Cold Blue Music

Related articles

CD Feature/ Giancarlo Toniutti: "Sound-field for Rattle-Harp"
Giancarlo Toniutti's first full-length in ...
CD Feature/ Bvdub: "Return to Tonglu"
Real power for the integration ...

Partner sites