INTAKT RECORDS – CD-REVIEWS

ELLIOTT SHARP. CONCERT IN DACHAU
Intakt CD 149

 

 

Vocabulary is arguably the key ingredient in any entirely solo performance on any instrument other than the piano. Concert In Dachau is, perhaps, the best realized music Electroacoustic guitarist Elliott Sharp has ever committed to record. It's rare to get the chance to take in a musician's very thought processes as is possible here, and a by-product is Sharp's vocabulary being is thrown into stark relief. It's to his resounding credit that it's rich, varied and alive with nuance.
Over the course of four lengthy performances, he seems at times to be in a kind of dialogue with the music itself. There's a moment in “Dachau 1” where the sheer level of his engagement evokes a Terry Riley-like minimalism, but the sense is usurped in the face of the volume of Sharp's ideas and their degrees of resonance. He seems acutely appreciative, at such moments, of Derek Bailey's “in the moment” approach to solo guitar, the knowledge seeming to fuel his own creativity, and acting as a kind of spur to his playing.
In the opening passages of “Dachau 2,” Sharp is preoccupied with the guitar's augmented vocabulary. Both strings and the ways in which they are to be manipulated result in music that could just as easily be the product of a duo as opposed to a solo performance. Here Sharp shows himself to be a player of finesse; it's that quality, however, which informs the changes the piece undergoes.
”Dachau 3” finds him more preoccupied with the nature of the electric properties of the guitar, in a manner that, more than anything else, here shows how alert he is to the potential it has to offer. A reflective air sometimes pervades, but such is Sharp's appreciation of musical construction that he never seems to lose sight of where the music is going. In that respect, at least, Sharp is taking his music to new places. The whole program is in essence a manifesto for restless creativity, even while on “Dachau Encore” Sharp evokes the spirit of Blind Willie Johnson with his dexterous slide playing.
Nic Jones, All About Jazz USA, May 18, 2008

 

 

 

Ulrich Steinmetzger, Berner Zeitung, 17.4.08

 

 

… Concert in Dachau is really magical, as much a process as a series of four long-form pieces. Sharp moves, ever so gradually, from earthy blues-inflected drones into less traditional territory and back again. The whole concert is in, or centered on, D minor, but the encore jumps unceremoniously into a joyful blues romp in E flat. Sharp’s use of electronics is masterly, never overly obtrusive and always birthing interesting timbres. At one point, he’s laying strange counterpoint down over some backwards chatter of his own making and the effect is mysterious and fun. Another vignette finds him manipulating overtone drones and achieving disconcerting stillness. The slide-drenched stream-of-consciousness encore is worth the price of admission, but the rest of the disc shows a master improviser at work.… A fine introduction to the work of this versatile artist.
Marc Medwin, All About Jazz New York, Mai 2008

 

 

Dass ELLIOTT SHARP als Sohn von Holocaustüberlebenden beim Wort Dachau gemischte Gefühle packen, ist verständlich. Wenn er dabei Captain Beefhearts 'Dachau Blues‘ im Ohr hat und, abseits von jedem Holocaust-Business, die Gelegenheit benutzt, gegen den Alleinvertretungsanspruch Israels im Promised Land Stellung zu nehmen und an so viele andere Opfer von Genozid und Extermination zu erinnern, zeigt das seine musikalische Wellenlänge und seine Souveränität. Im Cafe Teufelhart spielte er am 16.5.2007 sein Concert in Dachau (Intakt CD 149), einen Querschnitt durch sein Soloprogramm für elektroakustische, genauer, laptopunterstützte Gitarre. Material von Velocity of Hue und Quadrature, verwoben in drei zusammenhängende Set-Parts und eine 'Dachau Encore‘ als Hitech-Countryblues-Update. Wer wie ich Sharp mit seinem markanten Doppelhals-Gitarrenbass abgespeichert hat und von Fibonaccizahlen gesteuerten perkussiven Stakkati, den verblüfft die fingerfertige Versatilität seiner Erfindungen, sein virtuoses Arpeggieren und die, wenn auch mit einer über einzelne Stilrichtungen sublimierten Abstraktion, Farbenpracht seiner Musik. Nun muss man den Meister beefheartesker Ultra-Yahoo-Gesänge, pyrotechnischer 'Psycho-acoustic‘ und Carbon‘scher Brutistik in einem Atemzug mit Sir Richard Bischop nennen. Wie Sharp seinen perkussiven Duktus verdreht und aufmischt mit schillernden Klangfarben, Glissandos und Drones, das hat jedoch eigenen Ohrenzwickerbiss.
Rigobert Dittman, Bad Alchemy, 58, 2008

 

 

Rainer Kobe, Jazz'n'more, Zürich, 6/7-2008

 

Reiner Kobe, Jazzpodium, Deutschland, Juni 2008


Was der politisch hochbewusste New Yorker Downtown-Aktivist hier macht, ist eine hellwache Meditation über den Schreckensort Dachau. Sharp, selbst jüdischer Sohn eines Holocaust-Überlebenden, improvisiert vier längere Stücke auf der unverzerrten E-Gitarre, die vor allem durch ihren luziden Gestus des Unplakativen überzeugen. Der Verzicht auf Effekte von Verstörung, Terror oder normierten Krach lässt genug Raum, sich Vorstellungen über das Unvorstellbare machen zu können. Komplett anders als Luigi Nonos legendäre Tonbandarbeit "Ricorda cosa ti hanno fatto in Auschwitz" von 1965 verzichtet Sharp auf den Versuch, das Unvorstellbare zu illustrieren, sondern versucht, Räume der Erinnerung in der Gegenwart zu öffnen. Ungemein wichtiges zeitgenössisches Gitarrenwerk.
By Honker, Made my Day, TERZ StattZeitung, Deutschland, Juni 2008

 

Kurt Gottschalk, Signal to Noise, USA / Canada, Summer 2008

 

Thomas Hein, Concerto, Österreich, Juni/Juli 2008

 

Marek Romanski, Jazzforum, Poland, June 2008

 

Enzo Pavoni, Jazzmagazine, Italy, July/August 2008

 

 

Elliott Sharp, un des guitaristes les plus appréciés de la scène new-yorkaise, ne cesse d’impressionner par ses projets nourris d’expériences musicales en tous genres alliant jazz, blues, rock mais aussi musiques électroniques et parfois traditionnelles. Toute son expérience du solo est résumée sur cet album, enregistré live à Dachau. Trois plages improvisées complétées d’un rappel suffisent à placer l’auditeur dans les conditions des différents solos donné par Sharp, dont le jeu aux sonorités très personnelles est à découvrir de toute urgence. Le guitariste n’hésite pas à recourir aux multiples possibilités de la guitare pour pousser toujours plus loin l’exploration du son et du phrasé. On ne regrette qu’une chose : ne pas le voir à l’œuvre, tant on voudrait comprendre comment sont produits tous ces artifices inouïs. Avis aux amateurs de registres et de rythmiques originaux à la guitare électro acoustique.
Citizen Jazz, France, 2008

 

Quel che Elliott Sharp, ebreo, figlio di un sopravvissuto all’olocausto, possa aver provato nell’esibirsi a Dachau non è dato sapere. Di certo, e le note di copertina ne sono testimonianza eloquente, l’ombra minacciosa del vicino campo di sterminio, eterno monumento al male assoluto, deve aver suscitato nel chitarrista newyorchese riflessioni profonde sulla natura umana e sulla sciocca ciclicità della storia.

Detto questo - doverosa premessa -, non vale la pena addentrarsi oltre in oziose speculazioni su quanto la musica registrata al Cafe Tuefelhart nel maggio del 2007 possa essere figlia di quel particolare stato d’animo. Basti sapere che gli oltre 73 minuti registrati a Dachau sono quanto di meglio pubblicato da Sharp dai tempi di The Velocity of Hue, e proprio di quel disco (Emanem - 2003) rappresentano la naturale, meravigliosa, evoluzione.

Medesimo lo strumento, la fedele chitarra elettroacustica, anche se, rispetto alle precedenti registrazioni in solo, la durata dei brani si è dilatata a dismisura, oltre 25 minuti il più lungo. All’interno di ciascuna traccia, spiega Sharp nel booklet, sono confluite più composizioni, mentre le parti di raccordo sono ovviamente improvvisate.

Il risultato sono quattro monumentali, fluide, esplorazioni in cui l’arte del maestro downtown splende fulgida come non mai; esplorazioni che si nutrono delle solite suggestioni blues, di psichedeliche sublimazioni vagamente kraut, frenetici turbinii di tapping, slide-raga orientaleggianti (il sognante finale del secondo brano), passaggi in fingerpicking alla John Fahey, nebulose di caos e piogge di armonici. A rendere ancora più imprevedibile il programma, e qui sta l’evoluzione rispetto al passato recente, contribuiscono il supporto del laptop e di una loop station, elementi creativi perfettamente calati nel flusso, mai inutili orpelli o corpi estranei al divenire della performance. I loop, in particolare, giocano un ruolo essenziale nell’allargare i confini del possibile: riscattati dal banale ruolo di basi sulle quali improvvisare, Sharp li elabora, rielabora e trasforma con genio creativo.

In un programma senza cedimento alcuno, meritano una citazione i 7 minuti e mezzo del bis, un incredibile blues in cui Blind Willie Johnson e Mississippi Fred McDowell si aggirano sbigottiti per le vie della New York di inizio secolo.

Chiudete gli occhi, e che il viaggio abbia inizio.
Luca Canini, All about Jazz Italia, 6. October 2008

 

Elliott Sharp's concert in Dachau in May 2007 was a striking personal moment. Being a descendant of parents who were lucky enough to escape the Holocaust, Sharp understands the crucial meaning the concentration camps hold for future generations. Sharp is quick to point out that besides the Jews, Hitler's first victims were the mentally ill, Communists, Socialists and homosexuals. Question for Sharp [as for many of us] is why aren't there more international memorials in place for millions killed by Chinese Cultural Revolution, by Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, the Hutus and Tutsis? In other words, a definition of a holocaust comes into question. Is it sheer numbers that define a holocaust or is broad-range marketing enough to label a horrendous event as such? Program that Sharp presented on that May night in Dachau was performed on his electro-acoustic and laptop guitars. The themes play themselves flawlessly so much so, one would like to believe there is a bunch of guitarists sitting in the spotlight. Sharp is quick on the picking and the strings get quite a work out. More than anything else, this music is drenched in blues. These are the sounds of despair, the themes of anger, disgust and all dark human emotions put into one 70 minute performance. Wild improvisations appear, only to be replaced by scorching laptop revelations a few minutes later. With each phrase, with each turn, the music turns on its head to deliver an emotive punch. This is an ultimate way for Sharp to pay homage to those whose lives were brutally cut short at Dachau. As the old adage says, for those that don't know history are doomed to repeat it.
Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta Nr. 68, October 2008, Poland

 

Elliot Sharp is surely one of the most gifted guitarists of his generation,
a player who has truly sought to make his own mark on the ubiquitous instrument. Forging his own vocabulary, Sharp’s most riveting work has often appeared through his solo projects. For those lacking exposure to Sharp, his idiosyncratic style follows a path where sound-sculpting is key, often utilizing custom-built instruments sifted through effects pedals, electronics and other implements that highlight his percussive attack. The sonic results often lead one to head-scratching at how these sounds are actually crafted (thankfully for the techno-geeks, Sharp helps out on the liners).
Arguably the key to “getting” Sharp is to understand his reliance
on nuance, rhythm and timbrel variation. The following looks at all these attributes in two diverse settings.(1) presents Sharp’s forth release on the Swiss Intakt label that finds Sharp in a live setting in Dachau, Germany. Given the city’s history and as seen through Sharp’s brief introductory notes, the concert invoked deep-seated feelings of loss and specifically, the representation the city has for a greater meaning of human suffering.
With this backdrop, Sharp’s improvised performances on his electro-acoustic guitar are riveting. “Dachau 1” is aN animated opener, with an anthemic vibe steeped deeply in the Blues, which also gives rise to Sharp’s brilliant slide techniques, as the strings buzz across the overdriven landscape. While initially focusing on Sharp’s clean sound, “Dachau 2” demonstrates Sharp’s heavily processed musings, with backwards loops shivering like tiny icicles as the soundwaves oscillate to bring forth touches of folk. Finally, “Dachau 3,” the record’s lengthiest piece, certainly highlight’s Sharp’s incredible technique with harrowing finger flights meeting heavily processed canyons where one has to wonder what sort of planet this music is coming from, though “Dachau Encore” comes back to Earth for engrossing straight-up slide Blues, Sharp-style.
Jay Collins, Cadence, USA, Fall/Winter 2008

 

Klaus Hübner, Westzeit, Deutschland, November 2008


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