The music of Elliott Sharp always impresses with its potential for orchestral brilliance, even when played in relative quietude with just Zeena Parkins and Bobby Previte in this trio Carbon, on Transmigration at the Solar Max. The term “relative quietude” comes with a special advisory, of course, as the music is explosive, forged in a distinctive and powerful style of smouldering colours and dark intensity. There is no attempt to disguise emotions, mitigate circumstances; no attempt to use euphemistic devices and gestures. Clearly Mr Sharp also regards the directness of expression and the formal freedom of the Jazz idiom as better to communicate existential angst, the ambiguities of modern urban life – indeed the continuum of cosmic life – completely bereft of the formulaic language of even classic modernism.
Contemporary works by musicians of the generation to which Mr Sharp belongs often suffer from under-rehearsal, just as much as they suffer from imitation and cliché, but in this superb recording Mr Sharp’s sound-world seems well and truly lived-in. The other soloists – harpist Zeena Parkins and drummer Bobby Previte bring a degree of finesse and nuance to works such as – especially – “Perihelion” and “Aurora” which helps raise this music to a very high level. With this and other repertoire on the disc Mr Sharp evokes feelings and emotions aroused by aligning himself and his music with the energy from the nuclear corona of the sun.
The result is an overwhelmingly atmospheric work that employs a highly original mesh of instrumental voicing. Altogether we hear this unique music by Mr Sharp via radiant strings (with guitar and harp), shimmering percussion and amplified events from the bevy of electronics that he uses, as well as from judicious employment of his soprano saxophone. This creates a slightly unnerving effect in almost all of the pieces. Yet it is also one where the controlled disturbance of the raw and anguished eloquence of guitar, harp and drums can also be remarkably sensual when you least expect it.
Track list – 1: Analemma; 2: Perihelion; 3: Orrery; 4: Aurora; 5: anthelion
Personnel – Elliott Sharp: 8-strong guitarbass, soprano saxophone, electronics, samples and textures; Zeena Parkins: electric harp; Bobby Previte: drums
Released – 2018
Label – Intakt Records (Intakt CD 311/2018)
Runtime – 53:45