Review of ERR Guitar by Elliott Sharp, Mary Halvorson and Marc Ribot, Intakt, 2017
I confess I have been waiting for this record for a long time. What can a contemporary guitar fan want if listening to Elliott Sharp, Mary Halvorson and Marc Ribot play together? The focus of this record is still him, the great Elliott Sharp, always ready to experiment and find new ways and ideas. The basic idea was to make duets between him and Mary Halvorson and Marc Ribot. The reason, as Sharp explains, is due to the fact that in a duo the possibilities of improvisation find a much stronger foundation: music becomes a kind of communication between the two musicians where they can explore their own different styles and where tehy can find a common space of interaction, where they can exchange ideas, concepts, a kind of neutral ground to confront. This record presents sixteen songs, all performed in duo with the exception of two songs performed in trio, but not with the three guitar players staying togheter at the same time in the same studio because of the impossibility associated with their personal commitments. Sharp defines them as “studio fiction”: in the first track “Blindspot” Sharp and Ribot first played together, imagining the presence of Halvorson and leaving her a space that she subsequently filled up. For “Kernel Panic” Sharp has composed a musical chart, a kind of sound texture with a precise duration that evokes sounds, rhythms and a basic process, with each of the three guitarists then overdubbed on the others.
Like many other guitarist projects, this record incorporates a healthy, sardonic sense of humor. There is an established tradition that sees every aesthetic attitude as passive contemplation of immediate data, such as direct apprehension of what is presented, uncontaminated by any conceptualization, isolated by all echoes of the past and all threats and promises from the future, exempt from every initiative. It is not the case of this record that proudly shows, smiling, all its provocations, defects, mistakes and joy of living.