Eye of the Storm
Wobbly Oddwords, Killed in Cars.com, April 21, 2009
I’m posting this album not merely because it totally rocks, but to make a political statement, as well. This one: see, not everyone in the Deep South is a benighted bigoted idiot! We even have improv if you know where to look!
The Eye of the Storm is a collection of improvisations for solo violin and viola (with the occasional vocal contribution and, on one track, guitar) from the Birmingham-born and -based Smith, who, with business partner Davey Williams, runs the TransMuseq label and edits the improv journal the Improviser. The pieces here are more structured and melodic than the likes of Yeh, Bradfield or Goldstein, but only in the same way that solo Braxton is more structured and melodic than Arthur Doyle, so this is still not for slouches. It’s dense, heady stuff that showcases a mastery of multiple musical vocabularies, from the cosmic sawdust hoedowns of Henry Flynt to squeeks that sound like balloons deflating to thick sheets of atonal scribbles that betray her years of study: like the best work of its kind, it not only blends the pleasurable and the agonizing, but blurs them ’til they’re indistinguishable. Definitely will please plenty of readers.