For the last two years Steven R. Smith has been laboring under the moniker of Ulaan Khol to craft his trilogy of albums collectively known as “Ceremony.” The first two albums, titled "I" and "II," above all else demonstrate Smith’s command of the guitar. The material varies from washed-out guitar space expeditions to kaleidoscopic explosions of psychedelia.
On "III", Smith brings it all home for a big finish. Noise rock flurries give way to cleanly picked ambient passages. Deep space drones get sucked into heavy sludge. Smith chains all of these elements together without distraction. "III" could have been an exhaustive album, but Smith’s sharp focus keeps everything moving at a brisk pace, leaving not even the slightest chance for boredom. Despite its numerous shifts in tempo and style, "III" never feels like a disconnected series of simple jam sessions. Smith is not just a talented guitarist, but he is also a shrewd composer, eliminating that which he deems unnecessary, leaving room only for the wonder and exhilaration of the worlds he creates with his guitar.
The only downside to Smith’s astute self-editing? The whole thing feels like it’s over far too soon. Put this one on repeat.
8/10 -- Robert Oberlander (19 May, 2010)