Semi-legendary New York improviser/composer with an album of solo acoustic guitar...
Peter Marsh 2003
Elliott Sharp is the definitive Downtown New York musician. Equally at home free impovising with John Zorn, playing down home dirty blues with veteran guitarist Hubert Sumlin or writing for string quartets, he's been one of the most hardworking yet maybe undersung talents on the scene.
Having said that, Sharp's music's always left me a bit cold; maybe it's a consequence of the genre-hopping he's managed so expertly, but there's never seemed to bean identifiable voice that glued all these things together.
Here he's alone with an acoustic guitar, still displaying a kaleidoscopic range of references, though the intimacy of his method makes this the most personal record I've heard from him. Blues picking and plangent folky bits straight out of Bert Jansch or Mike Bloomfield rub up against more abstract explorations on 14 short pieces.
While on electric guitar Sharp often seems to be content to trot out avant rock hysterics through a haze of distortion, the acoustic instrument reveals a player of impressive technique and great sensitivity to the moment. "Euwrecka" is a fantastically focussed display of stamina; the guitarist hammers his way through a sequence of minimalist riffage with hypnotic results.
Elsewhere Sharp conjures up aresonant, desolate strain of abstract blues which imagines a collision between the dustbowl atmospherics of Ry Cooder's Paris, Texas and the fragile beauties of Hans Reichel's FMP records.The ever reliable Emanem are to be congratulated for putting out a record that's a bit of a departure for them and one which for me anyway, confirms Sharp as a major improvising talent. Worth a listen.