Geomusic II (1975)
Unlike next albums in this post, this one is mostly everything I could expect from Mr. Smith, based on the albums I already knew and loved. This, along with Geomusic III, is the only his album where I couldn't say for sure if it's more avant-garde jazz or modern classical music. While Geomusic III had some undeniably avant-garde jazz parts and featured a sax, with Geomusic II I'm almost certain it's more a modern classical work however. The compositions are unpredictable, subtle, abstract (the idea is also reflected in the cover). And then there's the technique. There's a quote from the composer on the back side of the cover. It states the following
"there is no trickery involved in this record ! No electronics immagery, no added sound, no overdubbing... Here you will only find, "I", "me", ... and a piano."
If it's indeed the case (and I don't think we have a reason to don't believe his statement), I think I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said that certain parts of this album suggest that Smith invented a new way to play piano. Which apparently includes not only pressing piano's keys, but also doing things to its strings and housing. There's also a quote from Pierre Lattes who produced the album
"You begin with thinking, how can one get that out of a regular piano? Then, why does not everyone play that way?"
Those are also my thoughts.
* (please note that the third track is mistagged in this upload, you have to fix it if it makes a difference for you)
Michael Smith Quartet - Austin Stream (1977)
This is a live performances with the same line up as on the "Geomusic" album (the first one in the series), and contains mostly performances of the same compositions. Frankly speaking "Geomusic" never was one of my Smith favorites, as it's one of the few albums of his which, I feel, lack what makes the other albums so special and could be done by other jazz musicians as well. On a side note, Geomusic (and thus Austin Stream too) also may be the only Smith's album which has many traits of free jazz (as opposed to avant-garde jazz).
All Our Steps... (1983)
On side A we hear a kind of jazz-rock, which is very unexpected and was a nice surprise. Note that half of the compositions were written in collaboration with bassist Jonas Hellborg. Side B on the other hand, is abstract experimentation, mostly with percussion. Unlike say Geomusic II (which has moments of great tension), it's also rather uneventful to my ears, and as such I didn't find it very interesting.
Much like the previous album, a very unexpected change in style for Smith. Here he seems to temporarily abandon his avant-garde ambitions, and decides to write some gentle, fragile, almost sentimental at times, yet moody compositions for piano and some added electronics. This could be great in theory, however I found the result to be only merely intriguing. A very good listen when in a suitable mood anyway, and may grow on me with more listens in future.