Thursday, October 13, 2005

She heard a silent voice

After leaving Opal, Kendra Smith moved to the mountains of Northern California. She lived in a cabin with no electricity, growing her own food and training donkeys. Thomas Pynchon may be a neighbor. Smith had not retired from music, she just wanted to play her own music she on her own terms. She found a pump organ in a junk shop and started using that as her primary instrument (remember - no electricity). Smith also started playing a harmonium. Think Nico.

Four years after she left her last band, another record came out. This one was by a band called the Guild of Temporal Explorers. That’s some sort of reference to the stories of Michael Moorcock.

The six songs (and little bridging interludes) are every bit as good as the early Opal recordings. Jonah Corey & A. Phillip Uberman were other two explorers in the Guild, they had been together since right after Smith left Opal but chopping firewood is sometimes takes priority over rehearsing and recording. And maybe writing too, there’s a song by The Can here too. Kendra Smith has great taste in cover songs.

1995 was the last time we heard anything from Kendra Smith. She released a solo record called FIVE WAYS OF DISAPPEARING on 4AD Records. The record has several great songs and the first not-so-good ones in Kendra’s discography. Her voice still sounded great. A. Phillip Uberman produced the record with Smith and co-wrote half of the original songs. There's one cover, it was originally by Richard & Mimi Farina. Jonah Corey appears to have left the Guild. The other musicians on the record are either from the area around Smith’s mountain cabin or are pseudonyms (Lazlo Toth?).

Kendra Smith played one show in Los Angeles and an in-store appearance at a record store in New York City. She also recorded a song for a Joy Division tribute record.

There’s a nice Kendra Smith website from Germany, that hasn’t been updated since 1992. So is that it? Has Kendra Smith retired to the mountains forever?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't tell you what she's doing now, but I can say that there was an interview with Kendra included in a book published in 2000 titled "Angry Women in Rock, Volume 1" (part of the old Re/Search line of books). That's the last I've heard of her (the q&a was definitely conducted after the 4AD album was released, as she talks about it).

There was supposed to be a second volume of the book, but it remains as invisible as Kendra, so far.

-- James

17/10/05 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what she's doing now, too. Our band (National Park) released a cover of one of the 'Guild of Temporal...' tracks as a single. I think Kendra/Opal fans would probably like it:

9/8/06 4:51 AM  

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