Published Oct 09, 2018UK-based sound artist Stefan Smith hails from the esteemed Mills College, where he studied under notable American avant-garde progenitors such as Fred Frith, Maggi Payne, Pauline Oliveros and Roscoe Mitchell. He worked as an assistant to legendary West coast synth school forefather Don Buchla. For the last four years, he's been employed as sound designer and composer for the Russian film Dau, legendary for both the audacity and the length of its production. Based on his activities, one could mistake the production of electronic music as Smith's side gig; one would be terribly and unequivocally incorrect.
It's fitting that Smith chose the Sapiens label — helmed by French producer Agoria — as a home for his musical output. The imprint's mission statement is as ambitious as it is brassy: to take an open-minded artistic approach and to release output as diverse as "political speeches, radio hits, dancefloor tunes, sensorial or cognitive music or a gentle computer virus."
Smith harvests the entirety of the synth landscape for inspiration, from early kosmische dreamers such as Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler to the experimental European house and techno mavens of the 1990s. The tunes included on his eponymous full-length album range from atmospheric drone drifters to squelchy acid-funk bangers to hypnotic synth voyagers.
Somehow, Smith manages to sequence the proceedings such that the record, when played in its entirety, is cohesive. This type of synergy is possible only under the skillful hand of a master sonic craftsman. (Sapiens)