Tempting though it may be to regard the work of Tom Darksmith as the soundtrack to a debilitating hangover in search of shameless debauchery, nope, you must be thinking of someone else. A 50-year-old who still skateboards, probably. If anything, it’s our contemporary era’s chronic malaise that seems to be what evolves apace with the ongoing doomsday-affirming mumble-scapes and murky abrasions this Oakland-based artist delivers at steady but irregular intervals — not the other way around.
Sophistos and returning champions might feel oddly soothed by the new side-long grit-plateaus on No Rent’s c30, where master forager Darksmith smudges and gnaws the less conspicuous avenues of noise design, like a very determined ostrich auditioning for the role of truffle pig (since he’s down there anyway). It’s your classic journey-not-the-destination work, inefficiency be damned, devoid of stunt screeching beloved by shallow and cynical hacks the world over, too imbued with real-world demands to bother with the showy academic pretense of ascribing significance to the commonplace or to indirectly challenging the listener to not hate his guts by the time the play button snaps off. Darksmith works for a living, presumes you do, too — even you unemployable lunatics — and has loaded Island of Stability/Primitive Version with a solid and fulfilling program: churning and grinding molded into a coherent, communal, quasi-narrative mass; voice fragments shattered and scattered near urban storm drains, where the last flickers of meaning rot and ooze downward toward the final mulch pile; and evocations of drama-free emotional desolation hobbling through borderline toxic atmospheres.
– S. Glass