Octal Book One by Elliott Sharp, Clean Feed Records, 2008


Here we go with Elliott Sharp, veteran “laurea honoris causa” of the 80’s downtown scene. Sharp has intelligently and creatively distributed his own talent among compositions of contemporary music for strings’ quartets, blues hard-core quintets, electronics, orchestral music, music filmworks, avant-garde jazz and guitar utopias, everything without a false footstep and earning himself a perfect reputation and a endless discography.

This interesting album concentrate all his attention on a particular eight strings guitar/bass built by the luthier Saul Koll that adds to the six traditional guitar two more bass strings. The tuning is absolutely standard as it regards the guitar strings and consequently the other two are respectively tuned in E and B, a lower octave. Another interesting aspect is the decision to not use a plectrum. The strings are grazed, stricken, struck, played only with fingers. In a pair of tracks he uses also the E-Bow, an electronic accessory uses a magnetic field that solicits the vibration of the strings without touching them. The result is a very percussive sound, the sonority of this guitar is really suggestive and seems to bait a sort of loop among the performer, the instrument, the amplification. In the explanations that accompany the cd Sharp declares to have anything against the usage of ‘drones’ that inevitably, for the physics of the instrument, are polarized toward the E, A and B, notes that often works like ‘pedals’ for the compositions and above all for the improvisations that in these contexts are always in great relief. The eight tracks (Through The Wormhole, Symmetree, Modulant, On the Brane, Intrinsic Spin, Strange Attractor, Antitop and Charm and Quaternion) are all compositions written and published by Sharp with a structure rigorously noticed that during the execution gives space to improvvisation and the creativeness of the performer.