Second Hand Smoke is the long-awaited new record from Melbourne guitarist Chris Smith. It’s gorgeous. Chris has, for roughly a decade, been out of the public eye, out of the scene and literally out of town. Living a quiet, small-town life raising his daughter, but working all the while. Making music from anything and everything, including the electric guitar he is famous for wielding. Recording bits and bobs on phones, tape machines, sometimes in the studio. Eventually, bundling it all up (50 hours or so worth) and taking it to Phaedra Studios where he holed up with producer John Lee and put together this truly beautiful album.
And it’s an Album with a capital A. Second Hand Smoke is an experience to be inhaled in one breath. Calming and expansive, full of sweeping cinematic vistas and melancholy melody, awash with sometimes ragged and noisy guitar. It was largely built from 8-track home recordings and layered with found sounds, field recordings, spoken word as well as multiple instruments and vocals. Chris says he had no real concept for the album from the outset; it emerged at Phaedra with John. But like all Chris’s work, it blends experimental and ambientnoise-making with more traditional songwriting.
The results are extraordinary - introspective ballads, torn up blues and hallucinatory instrumentals.