As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Ulaan Khol.
Steven R. Smith has used so many identities to produce music that it’s imaginable those multiple identities are slowly catching up with him. If so, his music isn’t showing any wear and tear from the stress of juggling pseudonyms. Under the guise of Ulaan Khol, Smith has released two numerical releases as part of his Ceremony trilogy that skewed his subtle guitar style for a malaise of crackling static that showcased Smith’s versatility and intuitiveness.
Soft Abuse concludes Smith’s ambitious trilogy with the appropriately titled III, an album that stokes the fiery embers of the Ulaan Khol flames one last time. The album begins with a storm of ferocious feedback, carefully manipulated through the entire width of the album. III is a mood ring, with Smith’s guitar providing an organic source of emotion as the music trends from a powerful storm of static to lilting, triumphant notes that dangle from Smith’s metallic strings. I and II had their gristled moments but III fully realizes Smith’s concept.
The notion that the guitar is a tired medium is put to rest in the capable hands of Steven R. Smith. The laissez faire attitude adopted by Velvet Underground wannabes and pop punk emo kids looking to score women and major label recording contracts smeared in mascara is set ablaze in III‘s pyre. Steven R. Smith gets to the heart of the guitar without creating an album full of pompous technique but an earnest account of the power and creativity still to be mined with six strings.