I?ve been a fan of Australian guitarist Chris Smith ever since hearing his magical but neglected masterpiece "Cabin Fever" album in the late ?90s. It consists of fractured mini-symphonies that walks the tightrope between droning noise and manipulated semi-pop with stunning ease. It still stands out as an album on par with New Zealand soundsmith Alastair Galbraith?s finest work.
It?s been a while since we last heard from Smith but when he gets back he does so in an absolutely remarkable way. "Bad Orchestra" is an album that adds a strong song-based element but without loosing the sense of aural claustrophobia that comes wrapped around every dark ambient tone. Imagine a mix of Galbraith?s abstract drone noise pieces and astral ghost fog, the Dead C's abstruse ambient noise and thick streaks of fluttering feedback, meandering Morricone-like sound sculptures recalling the open vistas of the never-ending outback and soaring Neil Young-inspired country/blues jams and you?re in the right confusing ballpark. Add to all this the occasional lilting piano ballad and organ snippets and we got ourselves an equally perplexing and inspiring album.
Smith himself describes his influences as ?the razor-fine line separating yourself from the babbling hobo you cross the road to avoid. Post- Roman Catholicism/LSD, the Devil and the deep blue sea.? If that description sounds even remotely interesting you owe it yourself to check out one of this time?s unknown legends. 8/10 -- Mats Gustafsson (3 April, 2007)