Dusted Reviews

Steven R. Smith - Crown of Marches

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Steven R. Smith

Album: Crown of Marches

Label: Catsup Plate

Review date: Nov. 22, 2005

Steven R. Smith is one of America’s great hidden artists. He has been composing and releasing solo music for almost a decade. Though affiliated with the Jewelled Antler collective through membership of Mirza and Thuja, Smith has suffered little from the spotlight glare that has fallen upon some of his peers. Instead, Smith slowly and humbly tends to his own compositions, moving between the historically charged meta-versions of traditional Eastern European music he records as Hala Strana and his solo conceptions for guitar.

Smith has been taking increasing liberties with long-form composition, and Crown of Marches consists of one 40-minute piece. For those well-versed in Smith’s idiosyncratic lexicon, Crown of Marches will be immediately recognizable. In an interview with Jim Haynes published a few years ago Smith pegged his major influences as Blixa Bargeld and the instrumental pieces from Swell Maps albums, and you can still hear echoes of the ‘wide open wasteland’ tenor of these performer’s most extended works in Smith’s own constructions.

However, Crown of Marches is Smith’s great leap forward. Composed as one broad sweep of the brush, its cyclical structure allows for the etching of discrete detail. Smith repeatedly shakes a gloomy, downcast flood of distorted noise from his guitar, a rumble that sketches the contours of the performance. Twenty minutes into the piece, Smith pulls this rug from under his own feet. Here he plays naked and alone, cleaving cavernous spaces of reverb with streams of shivery high notes that quiver with tremolo.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to correspond for a while with Steven R. Smith. He was most enthusiastic when discussing some of his musical loves – traditional music and Keiji Haino. You can certainly hear the loneliness and the galaxy-swallowing import of the latter throughout Smith’s most recent work. More importantly, however, Crown of Marches sounds like the unlocking of something previously hidden and veiled. It is a gorgeous and illuminated recording.

By Jon Dale

Other Reviews of Steven R. Smith


The Anchorite



Read More

View all articles by Jon Dale

Find out more about Catsup Plate

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.