It isn’t entirely true to call Smomid’s music uncompromising. Nick Demopoulos isn’t standing against using every day instruments in the project’s compositions when it serves his musical purpose. His ambitions, however, are far removed from the standard three chords and the truth rock and roll aesthetic that sustains and inspires so many others.
It isn’t that his way is better. He’s following the sound he hears in his head. Inspiration clearly fuels every move he makes, at least in substantial part, as he’s even taken it upon himself to build his own computer instruments figuring into Smomid’s sound. His refusal to obey what we expect to hear results in a jolting listening experience.
Cyber Solstice throws down the gauntlet from the first. “Rhythms of Lyfe” has an ambivalent feel for me. The abrasive brushes up against the softer and there’s a layered understanding of light and shadow laced throughout the opener. It remains a hallmark of Cyber Solstice. Demopoulos shows off his ear for a memorable melody many times during the course of the collection. “Genophilia”, the album’s second track, has a slightly spooked melody, developing in an unusually measured way. It is beautifully inevitable, however, familiar enough that longtime music listeners may find themselves resolving it in their minds before the song gets there.
That twisting and winding melody, however, wars with passages reliant on carefully controlled dissonance. A sure artistic hand steers every track on Smomid’s Cyber Solstice. The same certainty of direction defines “Inceptionism---” as well – there are no head-turning flourishes present in the track really, yet the song’s insistent press never lets you turn away for good.
The DIY nature of the project isn’t any sort of obstacle – Cyber Solstice possesses a polish that any artist would be fine with calling their own. There are no shortcuts in the presentation of these nine tracks. “Cr8tive De$truction” provides listeners with one of the album’s most dramatic moments thanks to the song’s darker sound though it ultimately never strays far from the core strengths long since established on this release.
The penultimate cut “Remember to Remember” is the album’s likely climatic number. It isn’t self-conscious or indulgent, however, as the expanded canvas Smomid adopts for the song doesn’t spill over into grandiosity. It is to be expected, however, that some will find the almost ten-minute running time a little excessive.
He ends the release well with the finale “Resonance”. It is, in some ways, a restatement of themes as a “closing statement”, though some may hear an added shot of buoyancy carrying listeners from this release and into the next. I feel glad to follow. I cannot promise that you will feel the same, but there are going to be many listeners who do.
It’s obvious that Smomid’s music revolves around taking chances. It’s capable of conforming to expectation, even traditional sometimes, but it has elastic regard for the idea of song that will take some getting used to for the bulk of listeners. If you value music that pushes the envelope, however, then Smomid’s Cyber Solstice is for you.
We do music reviews for Independent Artists and Publicists.