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Dusted  (Listed feature) 03.12.06

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Steven R. Smith.

Steven R. Smith

Steven R. Smith is one of America's great hidden artists. He has been composing and releasing solo music for almost a decade. Though affiliated with the Jewelled Antler collective through membership of Mirza and Thuja, Smith has suffered little from the spotlight glare that has fallen upon some of his peers. Instead, Smith slowly and humbly tends to his own compositions, moving between the historically charged meta-versions of traditional Eastern European music he records as Hala Strana and his solo conceptions for guitar.

1. 3 Women
Robert Altman's 1977 masterpiece. As the movie tag says: 1 woman became 2; 2 women became 3; 3 women became 1. Reportedly written from a dream; it sure seems that way upon viewing. Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Janice Rule at their most out there. Gerald Busby‚s soundtrack is perfect, which I had to bootleg myself by recording the audio output from the back of the VCR.

2. Long Fin Killie
I don't know anyone who seemed to like this band, then or now, except my fellow bandmates in Mirza back in the day. I know I must be wrong but it sure felt that way. We saw them play back then at an afternoon gig and I think between Glenn, Mark and myself, we were the whole crowd. Underappreciated, but what a unique group.

3. Townes Van Zandt - "Rake"
Probably my favorite song by anyone, anywhere.

4. Remedios Varo & Leonora Carrington
They were good friends so they get to be listed together. Both influenced each other and there is much in common within their art. Over the last few years some nice books have finally been published on each of them. Go look them up.

5. Spike Fiddle
Mine's got frets on it cause I'm lazy and my pitch is questionable even at the best of times. The everyman's violin, capable of just about anything.

6. The 1972 Volkswagen Bus
Loud, slooooow, and unreliable, capable of just about nothing, but still...

7. Crime & the City Solution
Never quite got their due compared to the Birthday Party or the Bad Seeds, with whom they shared members. I spent many years ripping off what I could from their vibe, not sure if I succeeded. Shine is the record to start with, then head one record before and one after.

8. Dale Pendell's Pharmako triliogy
What on paper appears to be merely a drug and medicinal plant reference is actually a visionary and uncompromising work of poetry, history, chemistry, etymology, alchemy, myth, and drug use. The third volume was finally released last month and the picture is now complete.

9. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
Sergei Parajanov's great film from 1964. Not easy to find but well worth the search. A Ukrainian folk tale turned upside down.

10. Don Cherry
Everyone should own his records, and all Dusted readers probably do. The light in the house changes every time he's on the stereo. I missed seeing him in New York just before he died about 12 or 13 years ago because I was young, stupid, and not in a "jazz" phase. My buddy went by himself anyway and I went to some other show that night which I can‚t even remember now. I regret it to this day.