Lifesmyth - "Music For The Third Ear"
(Camera Obscura 2003, CAM058CD)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: October 2003
Lifesmyth is the brainchild of North Carolina based Scott Smith, who wrote the songs and plays guitars, bass, mandolin, keyboards, sitar and vocals, with help from friends on backing vocals, sitar and cello. The promo sheets describes Lifesmyth as acid cum progressive folk, and indeed this is about as close as one could get to summing up Smith's beautifully difficult to describe music. Brooding folk, psychedelia, and various prog rock influences are all ingredients that make up Music For The Third Ear. The promo sheets lists influences including The Beatles, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Zappa, King Crimson, Nirvana and Tori Amos.... whew!!! Eclectic ay? Well don't try to pick these sounds out in Lifesmyth's music, because what's really happening is that Smith has synthesized them all into a sound that is uniquely his own, and covers a wide range of territory.
The CD opens with the brief "Approaching", with it's complex guitar runs and haunting atmosphere, quickly launching into the proggy folk-psychy "Being Alive", with its ethnic/Renaissance flair. "The Ride" consists of dreamy psychedelia with a bit of a 60's flower power edge. I love the gorgeous whining slide guitar licks on "We Have Come From The Earth". "Alone We Go" is a standout prog-psych track with varied instrumentation, potent acidic power chords, and a trippy sitar laced Eastern vibe. Another favorite is "What I Came With", a passionate rocking acid-folk song with traditional acoustic guitar stylings. I really like the way Smith utilizes folk and traditional styles along with psychedelia and some fairly sophisticated progressive rock. Moody progressive rock comes through on tracks like "It's All The Same Forever You Know", which brings to mind a valium laced version of Michigan band Discipline. "Beyond A Star" is like a modern drone take on early Mellotron drenched King Crimson. And "Sailing On The Way Home" is the heaviest rocker of the set, part of it bringing to mind Black Sun Ensemble and other parts sounding like Thrak era King Crimson.. Really mean shit and quite a surprise after the relatively calm and considered nature of the previous tracks.
In summary, Scott Smith is really on to something with his strange but imaginative mingling of styles. Wonderful things can happen when progressive and psychedelic influences come together. Recommended.
For more information you can visit the Lifesmyth web site at: http://www.lifesmyth.com.
Music For The Third Ear is distributed by Camera Obscura. You can visit their web site at: http://www.cameraobscura.com.au.
Contact via snail mail c/o Camera Obscura; PO Box 5069; Burnley VIC 3121; Australia.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz