Chas Smith is a Los Angeles-based composer, performer, and instrument designer and builder that New Times magazine called "a classic American original." He's a maverick composer who, in the spirit of Harry Partch, creates much of his music for his own exotic instruments�resonators that sprout rods, which are bowed and struck; large, clangorous sculptures of titanium; metal strings strung across multiple resonators; and vibraphone-like arrays of metal plates. His compositions, which display his dualistic fascination with the scientific and the sensual, might owe their split personalities to the diverse collection of composers with whom he studied in the 1970s: Morton Subotnick, Mel Powell, James Tenney, and Harold Budd. As a performer, Smith regularly appears on feature film scores, playing both pedal steel guitar and his personally designed instruments. (He may be heard on such popular film scores as The Shawshank Redemption, The Horse Whisperer, and American Beauty.) Smith has also been featured on recordings by composer Harold Budd and with Rick Cox and film composer Thomas Newman in the improvisation ensemble Tokyo 77 (Intone Records), and on numerous recordings of indigenous country music. Smith has performed his own unique works at various new music festivals and art galleries. His music has been recorded on the Arc Light, Cold Blue, Cantil, MCA, and Straw Dog labels. Smith's music for both pedal steel guitar and the instruments of his own design is extremely engaging. As one critic wrote: "If the house band on the Titanic sounded this gorgeous when the ship went down, you might have been tempted to stay aboard." The Wire (U.K.) wrote: "With Smith's music, the sounds are as compelling as his concepts and instruments." The San Francisco Guardian wrote: "From his creations, as well as his pedal steel guitar, he elicits � sumptuous compositions that range from delicate, lyrical vignettes to grating, sometimes horrific tone poems." And the Los Angeles Times wrote: "His music is a sound apart."
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