Chase Smith, WT 18 Chase Smith

[W.T. Records]

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With all the success Pittsburgh Track Authority have had recently, it’s no wonder the city is on so many minds. But if the trio have helped put their bridge-crossed home back on the map, they’ve also shown that even small cities can be a wellspring of musical talent — it’s only a matter of publicity. Just look at L.I.E.S.; its roster of experienced artists has superbly demonstrated how a lack of unsigned work doesn’t always imply a lack of ability. One newer name to come out of Pittsburgh is Chase Smith, who has just one previous record to his name. He also shares Machine Age Studios with Shawn Rudiman and Pittsburgh Track Authority.

Don’t expect that last piece of information to give up anything about WT 18 Chase Smith, though. Its four tracks shoot off in directions that even Smith’s debut record, Romance Synthetique, couldn’t have predicted fully. “Alright” and “Mantra” are the most expected cuts in this sense, laced as they are with Smith’s own sleazy vocals. Underpinned by torpid, clean-cut grooves, both prove a sound, if tame, marrying of voice and electronics. “342 Miles Away” introduces a much larger sense of space and populates it with clinking rhythm sticks and wriggling synth. It wouldn’t sound out of place on the quirky Lunar Disko Records, both with regards to quality and style. With the ease of these three pieces in mind, “(It’s Grim In) Mala Jaska” is the most obvious curve ball here. Restless where the other cuts are content, its corroded percussion and lo-fi techno thump are surprisingly bright and infectious. Like his studio partners PTA, it shows not only that Smith is willing to try different things, but that he does a fairly decent job of making them work, too. Alright isn’t going to knock everyone’s socks off, but for the adventurousness factor alone, it’s worth some time.

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