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Aluminum Overcast

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Album Review

Some artists have a signature sound. Then again, some inhabit a sonic realm that is their own. Visiting Chas Smith's realm tends to be an unforgettable experience that engulfs the listener softly, yet firmly. Aluminum Overcast takes the ideas and sound sculptures exposed in his 2000 CD, Nikko Wolverine, and pushes them further. Smith builds metallic sculptures that are amplified and struck or bowed. The copper box, the bass tweed, the Guitarzilla, and the Dado are back, accompanied by the newcomers Mantis and Majestic, the latter a huge structure of 38 by ten feet. But impressive gear doesn't make impressive music: it's all in the ear. Smith hears beautiful overtones in his creations and he communicates them wonderfully. His soundscapes are engaging, shifting slowly and gaining ever more richness. While the previous album presented separate pieces, this one can be seen as a 50-minute work in six movements. The first five use similar melodic and rhythmical material — a set of theme and variations from a minimalist point of view. The last piece is more textural, space-born, and haunting, like Ligeti's best works. Listening distractedly to Aluminum Overcast will give one the impression that the composer repeats himself endlessly. Careful listening reveals worlds within worlds of sound, where metal becomes an organic entity. The occasional addition of flute, cello, or voice goes almost unnoticed in these slow, contemplating pieces. Strongly recommended, and listen at high volume to let the overtones ring. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: 1948 in Hardwick, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Composer, performer, and instrument designer Chas Smith (born 1948, Hardwick, MA) has appeared on dozens of feature film scores, rock, jazz, and blues albums playing pedal steel guitar and organ, but since the 1990s he concentrates on his impressive metallic sound sculptures. Following in Harry Partch's footsteps, he builds his own instruments, structures that can be struck or bowed in various places, and writes for them. He is an acolyte of Rick Cox, Michael Jon Fink, and Jim Fox, all revolving...
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Aluminum Overcast, Chas Smith
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