"Their music is dark, hypnotic, and in the ranks of masters like Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and other brilliant pianists."
FIFTEEN WILD DECEMBERS (1995)
Edited By - Ulrich Schneider
Engineer - Steve Nye , Ulrich Schneider Executive
Producer - Martyn Harry (http://www.dur.ac.uk/music/staff/?username=dmu0mh)
Keyboards - Geoff Smith
Producer - Steve Nye (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Nye)
Voice - Nicola Walker Smith
Robert Smith,Scott Young - Assistant Engineer /Mark Burdett - Art Direction/Michael Kempter - Mastering/Elizabeth Siddal, Percy Bysshe Shelley,John Keats - Liner Notes
01 The Last Of England
02 Six Wings Of Bliss
03 Possess Me
04 Fifteen Wild Decembers
05 The Rainpools Are Happy
06 Speak Of The North
07 To The Old Place
08 Summer's Last Will And Testament
09 Six Wings (Bliss Out)
Link to download:
"If you enjoy any of the Modernists, from Glass to Part, to Nyman, Balanescu... you will treasure Geoff's work. This work is coupled with one of the most talented female vocalists - Nicola Walker is way up there on m list with Margo Timmins, Billie Holiday, Elisabeth Fraser, Lisa Gerrard, Cecilia Bartoli, P.J. Harvey, Kirsty MacColl and Sinead Oconnor, Beth Gibbons, Tanita Tikarum, Jane Horrocks, Tracy Thorn... Oh! almost forgot Kate Bush and Annie Lennox and...). Well we're just lucky to have quite a few of these Divas to enjoy but unfortunately progressive Modernist composer/musicians like Geoff Smith are all too rare - thank god for Sigur Ros, Mogwai and Godspeed. I wonder what Geoff and Nicola are up to these days..."
"This is an extraordinary album of great musical and emotional intensity. I think a few Tori Amos fans might be interested to hear how the piano can be extended further as a pop instrument using classical techniques. Certainly lovers of This Mortal Coil will get a kick out of this album."
"What can I say, but I absolutely LOVE this cd. I especially enjoy listening to this cd in the Fall months. I write poetry and fiction novels and Fall is my favorite time to write. This music inspires me and brings out so many feelings and thoughts. I bought their follow-up cd, Blackflowers, and I enjoy it just as well. I have been looking for years, hoping to find a third cd, but have been unsuccessful. I only hope they will share their talents with us once again. Geoff Smith's ability with the piano is amazing, especially with his crossover to classical. Nicola's voice is poetry in itself, amazing"
"Geoff Smith's first release is simply excellent. This is due to Nicola's particular voice and to Geoff clear talent. But listening to an album like this, you could risk your own life, because it is sad like no one else. I mean, the idea of suicide, the infinite sadness of the melody, could strongly hit your sensibility (if you have one), and take you to a silent world of loneliness and melancholy. It's great music, a modern romanticism of composing piano pieces, but surely not the best way to improve your joy adn happiness..."
"Most of the other reviews here place Smith in the wrong genre. This isn't a pop album, nor is he a pop performer, so the comparisons to various 4AD releases and artists (though understandable if you don't know about classical minimalism) are misplaced. This is in fact a western classical album. (Note, however, that Smith's subsequent release, Black Flowers, though similar, moves more into the jazz fusion world, particularly in terms of instrumentation.)
The most appropriate comparison is to Steve Reich, a "classical" composer in the minimalist tradition. Smith's piano work is very reminicent of Reich's work, and the addition of very accessible vocals (rather than more abstract "minimalist" stylings) is probably the factor that makes it somewhat harder to see it as a purely classical album. Were it just the piano, I doubt any of the reviewers would mention pop artists, and instead we'd be sticking to a discussion of John Adams, Phillip Glass, and Reich.
My personal reaction to the album is very positive. I'm a fan of Reich and Adams to begin with, so Smith's style is something I very much enjoy. The vocals are also very well done (I'll admit the comparison to Lisa Gerrard/Dead Can Dance is not entirely off base in that regard), and make for a very interesting combination that's less abstract and much more engaging for most folks than a purely minimalist classical album would be.
"A touch of Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins and minimal piano music, this album comprises a set of songs using words by nineteenth century poets (including Shelley, Emily Brontë, and Keats), all of whose lives were cut tragically short either by illness or suicide. Interleaved by piano pieces, the songs deal with themes of love, loss and longing for something which we know does exist, but which we also know will always remain just beyond our reach. Nicola's voice sounds great and sad. "I'm sure Brendan Perry's name must be somewhere in the credit lines", a friend of mine said, but no this is GEOFF SMITH!!"
BLACK FLOWERS (1997)
Bass [Electric] - Nick Bagnall (member of THe Fatima Mansions) (tracks: 1 to 6)
Cello - Deirdre Cooper (member of The Smith Quartet,see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_Quartet) (tracks: 7 to 9)
Composed By - Geoff Smith (tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9) , Tim Buckley (tracks: 6)
Double Bass - Gavin Bryars (http://www.gavinbryars.com/) (tracks: 2, 3, 4)
Guitar [Electric] - James Woodrow (member of Icebreakers,see: http://www.icebreaker.org.uk/) (tracks: 1 to 6)
Piano - Geoff Smith (tracks: 1 to 6)
Viola - Nic Pendlebury (member of The Smith Quartet) (tracks: 7 to 9)
Violin - Charles Mutter (member of The Smith Quartet) (tracks: 7 to 9) , Ian Humphries (member of The Smith Quartet) (tracks: 7 to 9)
Vocals - Nicola Walker Smith (tracks: 1 to 6)
Frank Ricotti - Percussion Overdubs
Gavyn Wright - String Overdubs
Steve Orchard,Mike Ross-Trevor - Engineer
John "Beetle" Bailey,Jason Westbrook - Assistant Engineer
Isobel Griffiths - Strings Contractor
01 Black Flowers
02 The Winds Must Come From Somewhere
03 The Blacksmith
04 Winter: My Secret
05 Rain In My Mouth
06 Song To The Siren
07 The White Girl I
08 The White Girl II
09 The White Girl III
Link to download:
"This album was a genuine surprise to me. I bought it for the string classical instrumental, but fell in love with the first six cuts which feature the vocals of Nicola Smith. This music is mesmerizing, yet it takes a lot of surprising turns so you're never bored. One of the best CDs i've purchased in the past year."
"I cannot praise Geoff Smith's string quartet, "The White Girl" enough. At the very least, it is the equal of any of the quartets of Michael Nyman or Robert Moran's quartet extracted from his opera "From the Towers of the Moon." I listen to The White Girl often and am mesmerized by it. What I love about it is Smith takes the genre of the string quartet (along with its heavy baggage of traditional repertoire) and has composed something at once forward looking, yet respectful of tradition. The White Girl is not "neo-classical" and not hard-core Modernist (like Carter) - it walks somewhere in between using a 20-21st c. vocabulary, but is incredibly easy on the ears. I love this fine piece. It is played fantastically well by the Smith Quartet and recorded beautifully.
In doing some research on the web I am disappointed only that Mr. Smith does not have more recordings to his name. I also wish he had a web site with a mailing list as I'd like to be informed about any new releases in the future. You've got to get this CD!"
"If "Fifteen Wild Decembers" was very good, "Black Flowers" is (put simply) a pure jewel ! The vocals of Nicola Smith, interleaved with the great piano compos of his husband, are a wonder to listen to. Much better than any album of Dead Can Dance, IMHO. That says all :)"
Geoff Smith is one of the new breed of British composers, while Nicola is a singer of remarkable range who has made a career of performing contemporary art songs, many composed by young British composers such as Gavin Bryars, Michael Finnissy, and Geoff Smith, as well as John Cage. The pair have also experimented with more popular music, as is made evident in their reworking of a Yorkshire folk song “Thi Coomin’” into a modern rock song that is reminiscent of work by Sinéad O'Connor. The two, who reside in Yorkshire England, were in the U.S. in 1992 doing research for a book on modern American composers. The two, reside in Yorkshire England. They released only two albums.
Born in the North of England in 1966, Geoff Smith has become one of today's most original ..."Geoff studied Music at Nottingham University, received an MPhil in Electronic Music from Oxford University and completed a PhD in music composition at Huddersfield University before working as a freelance composer and performer. Published by EMI, he became the youngest composer signed to Sony Classical in the history of the label. He taught at the universities of Manchester and Huddersfield before becoming Head of Music at Bath Spa University. In 2002, he founded the School of Music and Performing Arts at Bath Spa (http://www.bathspa.ac.uk/) which now comprises more than 900 students in Music, Drama and Dance and was recognised in 2005 as a national Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning. He is an elected member of the NAMHE executive (the National Association for Music in Higher Education), a member of PALATINE’s Advisory Board (the HEA Subject Centre for the Performing Arts) and an institutional assessor for the QAA. He was awarded a professorial title in 2005 for ‘outstanding qualities of academic leadership’ and recently completed an MBA in Higher Education Management."
http://www.bathspa.ac.uk/about/news/bsuonline/2008-10.pdf (page 3)
Fifteen Wild Decembers (1995)
Black Flowers (1997)