Label: Domino - WIGCD147 • Format: CD Album Digipak • Country: Europe • Genre: Rock • Style: Indie Rock
From a Basement on the Hill is the sixth and final studio album by the American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. The album was initially planned as a double albumand was incomplete at the time of Smith's death. Smith's family hired his former producer Rob Schnapf and ex-girlfriend Joanna Bolme to sort through and finish the batch of over thirty songs that were recorded for the album, although the estate retained final decision on which tracks to include.
Many of the songs reference Smith's lifelong struggles with drug addiction and depression. His cause of death is Anything You Can Do - Dionne Warwick - On Stage And In The Movies unknown, as the coroner's report remarks that some aspects pointed to suicide and some to murder. The official nature of the case and statements from close friends state that his death is still under speculation.
It has not been investigated further. From a Basement on the Hill became Smith's highest-charting album in the US and was praised by critics, with reviewers complimenting the album's attempts to expand Smith's sound, such as the incorporation of instrumental passages, as well as heavier, guitar-based material. On October 21,Elliott Smith died of two stab wounds, presumed by many to be self-inflicted. The wounds occurred following a heated argument at the Los Angeles home of his girlfriend, Jennifer Chiba.
The coroner's determination was that the mode of death was undetermined and raised the possibility of homicide. Smith battled heavy drug addiction and severe depression for most of his life,  although he was sober in his final days, seeking treatment at the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center in Beverly Hills and even giving up alcohol, caffeine, red meat, refined sugars and most of his prescribed psychiatric medications on his 34th birthday.
Smith took to sobriety with the same intensity with which he took to intoxication, and he found himself suddenly face-to-face with a lifetime of depression and unmanaged emotional trauma.
The album was initially planned as a double album, due to contractual obligations with the DreamWorks label now Interscope. He completed mixing on nine of these tracks with several others lacking only minor revisions or final vocals. Smith's estate hired Schnapf and Bolme to complete mixing on these tracks and eventually chose fifteen for inclusion on the album, which was ultimately released on ANTI- label. David McConnellalthough present throughout much of the actual recording process, was not consulted during the mixing, nor was he asked for the extensive three years' worth of notes he and Smith had made while the album was being recorded.
I didn't want anybody mucking it up. Smith told Under the Radar in "I asked this friend of mine to make up something he could say as fast as he could in fifteen minutes about people healing themselves or being unable to heal themselves. While he's saying this thing there is a main vocal that goes over that. In "King's Crossing", where he sings "It's Christmas time and the needle's on the tree, the skinny Santa is bringing something to me", Smith alludes to using heroin, Ostrich & Chirping - Elliott Smith - From A Basement On The Hill he had many problems with.
McConnell said "don't ask me how this ended up on the record, I totally forgot I had put that on one of his reels. It peaked at No. When asked what Smith would have thought of the album, McConnell told Benjamin Nugent, "I don't think he would have delivered [that] record. The record he would I Dont Know Yet - Count Basie Big Band - Farmers Market Barbecue delivered would have had more songs, would have had different mixes and [been] a little more in-your-face.
Bolme also said that they did not add anything to the songs, and only mixed whatever had been recorded: "I would never presume to add anything. We didn't add anything. After his death and the release of From a Basement on the Hillmany critics and fans viewed the album as a suicide note.
From a Basement on the Hill was well received by critics. Many reviewers complimented the album's attempts to expand Smith's sound, such as the incorporation of instrumental Largo - Lisa Gerrard - The Mirror Pool, as well as heavier, guitar-based material. Pitchfork called it "perfectly coherent and cohesive, without any sense of being slapped together from half-finished parts. Online called it "a beautiful swansong to one of this generation's best.
Consider it a 'fond farewell' to one of this generations most poignant and gifted songwriters. More often though, Smith teases extraordinary wit and warmth from songs that float lazily toward happiness.
In the UK the album was received even more enthusiastically than in Smith's home country. Under a headline of "He saved Ostrich & Chirping - Elliott Smith - From A Basement On The Hill best for last. How tragic. Without wanting to second-guess his mindset, this music often sounds like the madness surrounding its creator — his heroin troubles, an allegedly turbulent relationship, his struggles against depression.
So what dominates are these loud, wayward Los Angeles epics full of gothic grandeur, broken-glass emotions, bizarre soundscapes and heavy, early-'70s guitars. Other critics, however, were cautious about viewing the album as a suicide note: Mojo felt that "to do so would be to miss the crucial point — that From a Basement on the Hill is of a piece within a body of work that stretches back to the mid-'90s.
If Smith's lyrical themes were pretty much constant, the point was only underlined by the survival of his abiding aesthetic. Smith, Goin Down - Soluna Samay, Gee Gee Kettel - Streetwise, was no mere pasticheur.
As ever, his chord changes and arrangements betray an inventiveness seemingly borne of brilliant instinct. Moreover, the songs that form this album's spine find him striding away, not only from his own influences, but the approach that had defined his last couple of records. Those who found Figure 8 and parts of XO too in thrall to the musical ways of the West Coast — slightly over-airbrushed, maybe a little too lush — will be cheered by the fractured, frankly grungey likes of "Don't Go Down" and "Coast to Ostrich & Chirping - Elliott Smith - From A Basement On The Hill in their own controlled way, as messy and imperfect as the experiences described therein.
The contrast between their music and Smith's ever-tender vocals makes for a compelling tension; here, he alights upon an approach that would have gone on to serve him admirably well. For all his experiments with grungier rock and spectral acoustics, From a Basement It sounds like a completely finished album, and one which, remarkably, is a match for the very best in Smith's catalogue. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Elliott Smith.
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