Artist Spotlight: Jason Smith and Night’s Bright Colors

Gabriel Garcia Marquez found love in the time of cholera, protagonist Ray Aibelli updated oedipal lust in the movie Spanking the Monkey, and now local musician Jason Smith has discovered love in the asylum.

His latest release, Love in the Asylum Parts I and II (Aphasian Waves), is the final entry in the hospital concept, which began five years ago after Smith made an impromptu visit for an allergic reaction.

“It was actually pretty scary because I went into shock,” Smith recalled. “After that night, I got into the idea of forced medication for mental patients. I came up with this semi-functioning person and the addiction which follows.”

Named Night’s Bright Colors, the five-year recording project includes Producer/Engineer Matt Mauney (whose Square Root Studio houses all of Smith’s work), and a rotating crew of musicians from Scrappy Hamilton, Greenwich Mean, Red Kelly, and the Spoonbenders.

The first sanatorium entry came courtesy of True Space Adventures (released in 2000 on Aphasian Waves), an inward delve into schizophrenia and addiction. Smith used banjo, cello and piano to document the first night in the hospital on the next release, Late Night by Lamplight (Aphasian Waves). The Coma (Aphasian Waves) followed, an all instrumental album composed primarily of orchestral instruments.

“[The Coma] is all internal monologues,” said Smith. “For example, I used a descending key scale to show the plunge into a coma.”

The new double-album is more indie-pop oriented. Smith’s delicate voice (think Elliot Smith) provides a calm guide through the final interiors of the asylum. Although compositionally layered, the pop format will make the journey palatable to most ears.

A multi-instrumentalist, Smith also composes scores for film and TV, including the local indie film Sinkhole. He also recently developed “60 or so” themes for consideration in the upcoming Asheville: The Movie.

For more info on his CD and future dates, contact Jason at aphasianwaves@hotmail.com.

CD reviews

Strut, Non-Hostile Takeover: Three Stars

Genre(s): Rock, funk, ska.

You’ll like it if: You can deal with funk being on a leash in a studio setting.

Defining song: “Country Boy”—Ska and hoedowns collide courtesy of guest picker Woody Wood.

“Asheville’s Funkiest” could be on the threshold of “America’s Funkiest.” Strut performed all weekend at last year’s Bonnaroo Festival, and their song “One Stop” played recently on MTV’s “Meet the Barkers.” The new album, Non-Hostile Takeover, shakes off the dirtiness of their live shows and cleans it up for more mainstream accessibility. That’s not to say it doesn’t shimmy. Their lyrics (minus some of the love serenades) are progressively conscious, and their understanding of both funk and ska are damn near scholarly. The studio doesn’t yet stand up to their live sweat downs, but if making a stage show in a sound booth is impossible, this album will soothe the soul cravings.

[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]


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