The debut album from GRAY/SMITH delivers a strong rumination on deep-level electric and acoustic playing from two seasoned players, Keith NNCK and Rob Smith. Both artists have long been involved in decisively esoteric NYC music circles, including The No-Neck Blues Band, the Suntanama, Rhyton and Pigeons, and other bands that have risen and fallen in the last 30 years, from "freak folk" to the current hermetic scene of parallel-American music.
"The Gray Funnel Line" recalls outlaw music out on parole, even Marc Bolan at his peak of baroque despondency. The song is akin to a melancholy dirge sequenced at the end of an early '70s album, quarantined far away from any possible hit singles. "The Gray Funnel Line," and GRAY/SMITH in total, is music moving in contrary motion to the ephemeral experience of streaming to which we've grown accustomed, even indoctrinated: Trilled guitar notes and cymbals hang at a glacial, even discomforting, tempo; effortless passages recalling the best moments of authentic ballroom psychedelia plod along a travel song penned by a hero headed for "the girl I love." By song's end, both listener and GRAY/SMITH know our hero will never make it to that destination. It's a resolve and fade-out that is both expected and weirdly intimate.