An Hour Out of Desert Center is scored for pedal steel guitars, composer-designed-and-built crotales and sound sculptures, zithers, and a 1948 Bigsby lap guitar (a one-of-a-kind instrument that was owned by famed steel player Joaquin Murphey, who played with Spade Cooley, Tex Williams, Sons of the Pioneer, and other classic country artists). Here, Smith’s musical texture, evolving slowly and continuously over the course of the piece, is without dramatic flourishes. Like the spare landscapes around Desert Center, California, it simply exists in its muted beauty.
Absence of Redemption and Albuquerque 5402 are scored for the same instruments as the first work, but with the addition of Smith’s self-designed-and-built three-neck steel guitar, "guitarzilla," which he prepares (a la John Cage’s prepared piano) with metal rods and plays with hammered dulcimer hammers. Absence develops in the linear fashion of the first piece. Albuquerque 5402 is a large-scale, two-movement piece constructed from dense, shifting textures that slowly taper away in the first movement and interweave in the next.