“Message to the Moai” introduces listeners to only one side of Smomid’s musical personality. The five minute plus opening track for the ten song album Pyramidi Scheme isn’t representative of Nick Demopoulos’ talents, but rates among the most traditional manifestations of his skill included on an album turning most traditional preconceptions on their head. Demopoulos uses few conventional instruments on the recording opting, instead, to produce these performances via instruments he has designed. There is a foreboding mood hanging over the opener, but it isn’t as pronounced as what we hear on the album’s second track “Submerged”.

It shows a different trajectory for the project’s musical identity as well. There is no deference here to melody or mainstream considerations – Demopoulos pursues a ferocious industrialized electronic attack for much of the track and it has an overwhelming cumulative effect on listeners. It’s, arguably, the best example on the release of Smomid’s near absolute focus on electronic instruments in lieu of conventional sounds. “Ziggurat” is the album’s longest cut, clocking in a few seconds shy of ten and a half minutes, and has superior construction illustrated by well defined and inter-related movements. It is a track where the sum proves much greater than its individual parts.

It is one of the most threatening soundscapes included on Pyramidi Scheme and strikes a sharp contrast with the album’s sixth track “Gate of the Sun”. Melody surfaces on this track alongside Smomid’s typical battery of electronic sounds and the track follows a straighter line from beginning to end than earlier cuts obey. The dire tone of “The Watchers” recalls the third track “Ziggurat” and encompasses the same widescreen sonic terrain. Demopoulos proves his talents for crafting atmospheric tracks with particularly with tracks like this one.

“Hidden Chambers” is one of the more nuanced cuts on Pyramidi Scheme and exhibits Demopoulos’ thorough command of dynamics. He knows how to assemble these tracks to elicit maximum musical value from them rather than succumbing to self-indulgence; this is unavoidable in the hands of a lesser talent. The penultimate track “Pyramid of the Dwarf” illuminates a restless and even slightly crazed strand of Smomid’s musical DNA you don’t hear with other tracks on the release.

His penchant for surprise gets an emphatic exclamation point with the final track “Age of Leo”. After nine songs with ever present but varying degrees of intensity, Demopoulos chooses to bring the release to a quiet conclusion with this performance. The same mastery of dynamics heard on the album’s darker tracks is present here as well. It is a final illustration, as well, of Demopoulos’ keen awareness how important construction is for a release so obviously alien to conventional sensibilities. Despite the challenging nature of this release, Smomid’s Pyramidi Scheme isn’t an enigma for listeners if you give it a chance. Pay attention, revisit it, and its abundant riches become more and more apparent with each new hearing. It is a brave and cunning release that defies conventional analysis and connects with listeners on a physical and intellectual level alike.

Michael Rand

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