Releasing "new" music after an artist has died is always a tricky proposition, especially when that artist has a fiercely protective fan base. Olympia, Wash.-based indie label Kill Rock Stars will try

Releasing "new" music after an artist has died is always a tricky proposition, especially when that artist has a fiercely protective fan base. Olympia, Wash.-based indie label Kill Rock Stars will try to satisfy devotees of the late singer/songwriter Elliott Smith with the release this week of "New Moon," a two-disc set of primarily unreleased material. It comprises tracks recorded during the three years Smith was with the label, from 1994 to 1997.

Larry Crane, a personal friend of Smith's and the engineer who mixed most of "New Moon," admits "there's a real careful line to ride" with a release of this nature, but adds that so much depends on intent and timing. "If you put this out five months after he passed, that would be disgusting, but it's been more than three years now, and it feels like the right time."

"New Moon" consists of 24 tracks, only three of which have been previously released, two in limited editions. Smith plays all the instruments and recorded most of the material himself. Many of the songs, which range from more rocking numbers like "New Monkey" to sparser, bruising voice-and-guitar items like "High Times," were strong contenders for Smith's two Kill Rock Stars albums and therefore make a nice complement to his existing catalog.

Kill Rock Stars VP Maggie Vail says "New Moon" is "a celebration of [Smith's] music and his artistry. This time period was such a positive and prolific time in Elliott's life. I'm glad people are going to be able to hear it."