Daniel Smith, the eldest sibling of five, closely-knit, brothers and sisters, has released music under a handful of different monikers since 1995. Originally creating "Danielson" as an art school project for his senior thesis, the idea quickly started to grow into the aptly named "Danielson Famile." This group, which brought into the mix his four younger siblings along with a few friends from childhood, released the critically-acclaimed, "Tell Another Joke at the Ol' Choppin' Block" in 1997. During the next two years saw the release of two back-to-back concept albums, "Alpha" and "Omega" under the name "Tri-Danielson," before Danielson Famile returned with a family celebration album called "Fetch the Compass Kids," released in 2001. Three years later, he returned with "Brother is to Son," an album celebrating personal identity and community, but this time released under the moniker "Br. Danielson." Now don't be confused friend, because in 2006, Danielson has returned with "Ships," an album to resolve all things past. Opening his arms wider than ever, Daniel made a list of all the artists who have worked with him over the years. To that list, he added other folks whom he had made plans to work with at some point. His plan was to bring everyone together, to add to his new album. The creation of "Ships" led to working with family, making new friends, and keeping the old. All joined together - both the well-known (Deerhoof, Sufjan Stevens, Why?) and not as well-known artists (Sereena Maneesh, Leopulde, Half-handed Cloud) - each brought his or her own skills and ideas to Daniel's songs and voice, resulting in this crowning achievement. Not surprisingly, "Ships" became a massive project. Working with his friends, Danielson created so much music much of it could not fit into the full length album. So, all of that music has now spilled over into an ongoing series of 7" releases. "Ships" has brought the project back from whence it came and returning to the eponymous "Danielson" moniker and reuniting old friends and collaborators.
There's no avoiding that what began as a senior thesis project a decade ago has evolved into a world so rich with musicality and merry-making that the first six albums and ten years of touring pomp alone could nourish the most scrutinizing of thrill-seekers. Mythology-hounds, listening with headphones or at a party, have found Danielson to be as deeply rewarding in a literary-visual-musical way as canonical acts such as Sun Ra, Parliament and David Bowie.
Hailing from suburban Clarksboro, New Jersey, it is difficult to separate Danielson from their gooey visuals
(costumes and graphics) and the spirited music, regarding which, Daniel says, "One enters your heart through your
eyes, one through your ears." In the past they have sported hand-made, old-fashioned doctors' and nurses'
uniforms while performing as a "visual reminder of the healing taking place." As Br. Danielson, Daniel has worn a
nine-foot tall, hand-made nine-fruit tree to "bear the good fruit." Now in 2006, Danielson will once again perform
live in newly made-by-hand uniforms, still wearing their trademark "hearts-on-sleeves" and names on their chests.
This new uniform is inspired by the drawings and colors from the "Ships" artwork and the album's inspiration of
Also on the horizon will be the release of the feature-length Danielson documentary. Directed by JL Aronson over
the course of the last 5 years, "Danielson: a Family Movie (or, Make a Joyful Noise HERE)," will make its premiere
on the cinematic circuit in early 2006.