"The Black Flame Rinses The Second Sky" (2009-2013)
Double String Quartet, Orchestra, Pharmacist, Bally's Code Red, Spectral Ventriloquist, Micro-Gestural Half Life Timbre Polymodulation and Regulated Pulsaret-Width Modulation
REVIEW and COMMENTARY:
"...the complex score offers a language for Smith's negotiation. From the outset, a low-slung envelope snakes through and around existing obstacles, then lifts up off the ground to allow listeners to enter before twisting and turning away, pulling the ear along rather than asking the audience to stand and stare.
A dramatic vortex of spiraling ambiguities brings daylight down even into the submerged sonorities, while allowing these sonic spaces themselves to remain unflinchingly neutral, although varied in scale and dimension.
“Temental,” as Smith calls the central passage, is as internally variegated, allowing it to perform as the binding agent rather than the hieratic center that holds all the other elements of this magnificent piece together. In other words, the surface of this music —outside and in—is not an abstract plane or a transcendent core but a site of exchange between competing concerns.
Smith confounds us with neologisms (his life's other work) to depict renderings of passages within his compositions. While others merely define their work with titles, Smith augments each piece with titles within titles...a lexical panacea; a syntacticon unrealized by any other composer in time.
...the dexterity with which the performance takes on its various roles renders it materially present but momentarily elusive: No wall can be said to guard the boundary between inside and outside. Smith’s ideal emerges as a new kind of composition, sent via special delivery to a place where negotiation is urgently needed and heroism inconceivable."
Kevin O'Hare - Music Critic for "The Republican"