Monster Curve (SST, 1988) is an anthology of
Fractal, Marco Polo's Argali and Carbon.
Sili/Contemp/Tation (Dossier, 1989) is another anthology of the
same albums, focusing on the longer tracks: Marco Polo's Argali and
Free improviser, minimalist composer, noise sculptor, new-wave guitarist and prog-rocker, Elliott Sharp entered the last decade of the century at the peak of his multi-faceted talent.
Looppool (august 1987 - Ear Rational, 1988) was an ambitious solo album.
Sharp opted for computer, sampler and drum machine,
but his music did not change all that much.
It includes a 20-minute version of Virtual Stance.
Bootstrappers (New Alliance, 1989) was a trio with
George Hurley on drums and Mike Watt on bass (basically Sharp and the
Minutemen's rhythm section).
The Bootstrappers' second album, Gi=Go (Atonal, 1992), mainly devoted to
the suite Garbage In = Garbage Out, had replaced the rhythm section with
Jan Kotik and Thom Kotik.
Sharp reformed Carbon with
Samm Bennett on percussion and samples, David Linton on drums, and Zeena
Parkins on harp and keyboard to record
Datacide (march 1989 - Enemy, 1990), an album that, abandoning the cacophonous
aesthetic of the 1980s, bordered on industrial music and on death-metal.
Tocsin (september 1991 - Enemy, 1991) retained Parkins, but the rest of the line-up was new
(bassist Marc Sloan, percussionist Joseph Trump, David Weinstein on sampler)
and the program was only instrumental.
Carbon remained his "rock'n'roll" alter-ego, that indulged in brief,
frantic vignettes running the gamut from punk-jazz to funk-blues.
Both records are vibrant, eclectic, acrobatic and reckless.
K!L!A!V! (Newport Classic, 1990) was an eccentric recording, entirely
devoted to keyboard instruments: the
22-minute keyboards orgy Twenty Below for keyboard sextet
(Anthony Coleman on toy piano and organ, Wayne Horvitz and Zeena Parkins on electronic keyboards, a reed organ and two musicians on samplers),
the six-part suite K!L!A!V! for computer and sampler (both operated by Sharp himself), and
the 21-minute piano solo Mapping.
Twistmap (june 1991)
contains two pieces for string quartet (the 11-minute Twistmap and
the 8-minute Shapeshifters),
the 19-minute Ferrous for percussions and "violinoid", and the
10-minute String Of Strings for samples.
Beneath The Valley of The Ultra-Yahoos (Sulphur/Silent, 1992), another
satire on the USA lifestyle, features
Sharp leading on different instruments
(on guitar, bass, sampler, voice, saxophone, computer, drum
machine, and even mandolin)
in different combinations with drummer Bennett, Anthony Coleman's organ and various vocalists.
Just like its predecessor In The Land Of The Yahoos,
this is pop music compared with his most "scientific" work.
Orchestra Carbon's Abstract Repressionism 1990-99 (april 1992 - Victor, 1993) is an atonal chamber orchestra suite including three lengthy compositions
(Adventures In The Skintrade,
Dystopia Exit) as well as shorter pieces.
This "orchestral" work is a very rhythmic mix of jazz, classical and
minimalism, something halfway between Anthony Braxton, Iannis Xenakis and Glenn Branca.
Carbon's Truthtable (september 1992 - Homestead, 1993) was
Parkins, Trump, Marc Sloan on bass,
David Weinstein on sampler and Sharp on sampler, computer, guitars.
Sharp's distorted vocals were the album's main drawback, making it sound
like a cheap imitation of industrial metal.
Carbon's Amusia (Spectrum, 1994) was divided between solo Sharp
tracks and group tracks Parkins, Sloan, Trump, Weinstein).
Both albums sounded transitional and insecure: not as terrifying as the
early ones, and not fully "something else" yet.
Dispensing with the annoying vocals,
the same quintet recorded the all-instrumental
Interference (Atavistic, 1995), which finally moved towards a more
abstract and dilated sound
(Onyx, Jungle Freeze, the eleven-minute Thermal) despite the usual fits of neurosis (Slag).
Cryptid Fragments (Extreme, 1993) contains two wildly dissonant suites
(Shapeshifters, Twistmap) performed by the Soldier String
Quartet, the four-part Cryptid Fragments for cello, violin and computer (the computer distorting the timbres of the instruments and completely rearranging the sequencing),
and Umbra for cello and sampler (the sampler producing a wealth of
instrumental voices that storm the cello lines).
Westwerk (Ear-Rational, 1993) documented a solo (and relatively
subdued, by his standards) concert by Sharp, performing the
14-minute Temblor, the
14-minute Rods And Cones, the
35-minute Histogram (on doubleneck guitarbass, soprano, voice).
Psycho-Acoustic (Victo, 1994) and especially Blackburst (august 1995 - Victo, 1996), that contains the 25-minute Peregrine, were duos with Parkins.
Terraplane (Homestead, 1994) was his tribute to classic blues.
Dyners Club (december 1993 - Intakt, 1994) contains Sharp's guitar improvisations over the composed music of a guitar trio.
Boodlers (Cavity Search, 1995) was a live performance
and drummer Henry Franzoni, delivering
terrific playing and inspired lengthy counterpoint (Acid-Jazz Payback, Buckshot, Cambionics, Boodlerama).
The trio would deliver a less inspired follow-up, Counter Fit (Tim/Kerr, 1997).
A number of minor works followed.
Philorene (organico, 1995) was a collaboration with David Barratt on sampler.
Chipfarm (God Mountain, 1995) was a collaboration among Optical-8 (a Japanese quartet led by Hoppy Kamiyama on electronics and samples, and Otomo Yoshihide on guitar and turntables), Japanese rockers Melt Banana, and Zeena Parkins.
Hoosegow's Mighty (Homestead, 1996) was a collaboration with vocalist Queen Esther, and, de facto, another tribute to the blues.
Xenocodex (Tzadik, 1996) was a collaboration between Sharp (on guitar and clarinet) and the Soldier String Quartet on two of Sharp's electroacoustic compositions, the 19-minute X-Topia and the 29-minute Intifada, both
obtained by processing in real-time the sound of the instruments.
Figure Ground (Tzadik, 1997) collects soundtracks for films and installations:
The Salt Mines (1988),
Dreaming out Loud (1990),
Daddy and the Muscle Academy (1991),
Spring & Neap (october 1996 - Zoar, 1997) documents a live performance of a Sharp composition performed by Zeena Parkins on harp, Makoto Nomura on piano, Michiyo Yagi on koto, Yumiko Tanaka on shamisen, Yoshiko Fujio on shamisen, Tamiki Sawa and Mio Abe on violins, Hiromichi Sakamoto and Kota Miki on cellos, Hiroaki Mizutani and Masaaki Kikuchi on contrabasses, Guam Kumada and Kenji Ito on percussions.
Revenge of The Stuttering Child (Tzadik, 1997) is a collaboration with narrator Ronny Someck.
Improvisations (JDK, 1998) is a collaboration with cellist Frances-Marie Uitti.
Downtown Lullaby (Depth Of Field, 1998) is a collaboration with Wayne Horvitz, John Zorn and Bobby Previte,
Rwong Territory (april 1998 - Cavity Search, 1998) documents a live performance with DJ Soulslinger.
GTR OBLQ (Knitting Factory, 1998) was a guitar trio with Living Colors' Vernon Reid and David Torn.
Tectonics (february 1994 - Atonal, 1995) was mostly solo experiments, with an increased
role for electronics and electronic grooves: it ended up sounding like the
fusion between jazz and drum'n'bass that disc-jockeys around the world were pursuing,
but from the perspective of the free improviser.
It became a stand-alone project (Tectonics) on Field And Stream (december 1996 - Atonal, 1997), with compositions ever more futuristic and syncopated
(Glimpse Of Field Effect, Fzarp, Anatomic Dub, etc),
and Errata (september 1998 - Knitting Factory, 1999 - Neos, 2008).
Sferics (november 1985 - Atonal, 1996) delivered five solo guitar tracks (Source Taproot, Event Horizon, Oscuro, Teak, Clarify) and shorter pieces in the vein of Sonny Sharrock.
Arc 1, Arc 2 and Arc 3 (Atavistic, 1998) are career retrospectives.
Other compositions of this period include:
the interactive audio installations Tag (1997) and Chromatine (2001), and Fluvial (2002).
SyndaKit (Neos, 2008), composed in 1998 for the Orchestra Carbon
(Sharp on guitar, Judith Insell on viola, Rea Mochiach on percussion, Zeena Parkins on electric harp, Jim Pugliese on percussion, Ted Reichman on accordion, Marc Sloan on electric bass, Tim Smith on bass clarinet, David Soldier on violin, Evan Spritzer on bass clarinet, Joseph Trump on percussion, David Weinstein on synthesizer and sampler), is a 66-minute game-driven composition:
"a transformative organism consisting of 144 composed cores on 12 sheets divided among the 12 players with a set of simple rules for their use through processes of imitation, addition, recombination, transposition, and mutation... based on the activities of flocking birds, African drum choirs, cellular automata, hunting packs, and recombinant amino acids".
Blues For Next (Knitting Factory, 2000) and Do The Don't (2004) continued the blues experiment of Terraplane.
Acoustiphobia Vol 1 (Sublingual, 2001) is a live improvisation among Ikue Mori, Christian Marclay and Elliott Sharp.
Anostalgia (Gross, 2002) and Feuchtify (2006)
were collaborations with pianist Reinhold Friedl.
Prisoner's Dilemma (Gross, 2003) was a collaboration with Previte.
String Quartets - 1986-1996 (Tzadik, 2003) collects all the music for
string quartet, including
Tessalation Row (1986),
Suspension Of Disbelief (recorded between july 1998 and july 2000) was a solo album on which Sharp played guitar, clarinet, saxophone, zither, bass, synthesizer and computers.
Beyond (2000) was a live collaboration with Italian guitarist Roberto Zorzi and drummer Joey Baron.
Radio Hyper-Yahoo (2004) was another satire of the American way of life.
The Velocity of Hue (Emanem, 2004) is a solo acoustic guitar album,
a wild excursion through the sounds of
blues, heavy-metal, post-rock, free-jazz and Ry Cooder.
The experimented was continued on Quadrature - Solo Electroacoustic Guitar (2005).
Tongue (All Questions, 2004), a collaboration between John Duncan and
Elliott Sharp, is musique concrete with a soul, as the two manipulate and
reprocess sounds produced by their mouths (hard to describe them as merely
Tranz (2005) was a collaboration with Merzbow.
Terraplane (Alex Harding on baritone saxophone, Curtis Fowlkes on trombone, David Hofstra on bass, Lance Carter on drums) became the name of his horns-driven blues band, the blues equivalent of Carbon.
They debuted with Secret Life (Intuition, 2007), that mixed roadhouse
sound with guitar dissonance.
Its follow-up, Forgery (Intuition, 2007), featured vocalist
Eric Mingus, poet Tracy Morris, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, bassist Dave Hofstra and drummer Tony Lewis on a set of songs that often celebrate contemporary
events such as the Iraqi war and the Katrina hurricane. The horns steal the show in the drunk marching-band anthem Juke.
Sharp returned to the acoustic guitar for an interpretation of
of Thelonious Monk tunes on
Sharp? Monk? Sharp! Monk! (2006).
Pi:k (september 2005) collects duets with
viola player Charlotte Hug.
Concert in Dachau (may 2007) documents solo performances for
guitar and/or laptop.
Octal - The Book One (august 2007 - Clean Feed) collects works for
eight-string electroacustic guitarbass.
Base (recorded in 2008) collects guitar duets with Antoine Berthiaume.
Protoplastic (september 2008) collects duets with Boris Savoldelli (on vocals and electronics).
War Zones (october 2007) features Nevada Diggs (on vocals), Philip Jeck (on turntables), Hans Koch (on reeds), Fredy Studer (on drums) and Bernhard Lang (on keyboards and electronics) performing Paranoia, an excerpt of his theatre work Der Alte vom Berge, and Ripples from the Bang, mostly improvised with pre-prepared electronic sound files.
Sharp played eight-string guitarbass, guitar and soprano sax on
Void Coordinates (july 2009 - Intakt, 2010), recorded live with
Parkins (electric harp), Marc Sloan (electric and prepared bass), Joseph
and David Weinstein (sampler and synthesizer).
Abstraction Distraction (august 2008) contained pieces for
soprano and tenor saxes processed via analog and digital electronics, with drum programming and computer processing by Joseph Trump, Sim Cain and Tony Lewis.
About Us (2010) is a science-fiction opera for teenage performers.
Binibon (Henceforth, 2010) is an "opera"
with a libretto by Jack Womack about a murder.
The album is too "spoken" to qualify as a work of art.
Sharp's music basically plays the role of a soundtrack.
His occasional incursions in free jazz (The Scene),
acid-rock (Susie and Johnny)
and musique concrete <(i>Murder and) are merely commentaries.
Reflexions (Idiolect, 2010) was a collaboration with
Octal Book Two (Clean Feed, 2010) collected more works for
eight-string electroacustic guitarbass.
Electric Willie (Yellowbird, 2010) was a tribute to Willie Dixon.
Snowplow (march 2010) documents a collaboration between Andrea Centazzo and guitarist Elliott Sharp.
Canephora (Nuun, 2011) was a collaboration with
bass clarinetist Gareth Davis.
Sharp' Orchestra Carbon, featuring Ned Rothenberg (reeds), Steve
Swell (trombone), Zeena Parkins, David Weinstein and Jim Pugliese (samplers),
released the live Radiolaria (march 2001).
Yellowman: A Play (january 2011) for the theater, and then
Sky Road Songs (november 2011),
on which the leader played mandocello, guitar &
electronics flanked by Joe
Mardin (vocals, drums, bass & chank guitar), Tracie Morris &
Mingus (vocals), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Alex Harding (baritone
Dave Hofstra (bass), Don McKenzie (drums) and 80-year old electric guitarist
and blues legend Hubert Sumlin.
Cut with Occam's Razor (2012) collects Boreal (2009) for string quartet, Oligosono for solo piano (2004) and the double quartet Occam's Razor.
Aggregat (july 2011 - Clean Feed, 2012) collects various minor
vignettes for trio (with bassist Brad Jones and drummer Ches Smith) in which Sharp mostly plays saxophones.
Open The Door (Public Eyesore) documents a 1999 collaboration between
guitarists Nels Cline and Elliott Sharp (plus a live recording of 2007).
Duo Milano (april 2006) documents more guitar duets between Cline and Sharp.
Payton Peter Elliott (2012) collects improvisations by Peter Evans, Payton MacDonald and Elliott Sharp.
Momentum Anomaly (New Atlantis, 2012), originally premiered in may 2007, was a 60-minute acoustic guitar solo performed using an e-bow, the follow-up to Velocity of Hue and Quadrature.
Crossing the Waters (Intakt, 2013) documents the first studio
recording (march 2012) by the trio of Elliott Sharp (guitar), Melvin
Gibbs (bass) and Lucas Niggli (drums).
Haptikon (Long Song, 2013) collects computer-enhanced pieces for
Aggregat came back with Quintet (2013),
on which Sharp played tenor and soprano saxes and
bass clarinet along with Nate Wooley (trumpet), Terry Green
(trombone), Brad Jones (bass) and Ches Smith (drums).
Sharp's Incident collects music for cinema and theater.
The eleven-part suite In The Pelagic Zone (Jazzwerkstatt, 2013), recorded in november 2011, was composed for a a 14-piece chamber group consisting of a string quartet, brass, reeds, two percussionists, piano, guitar, contrabass, and electronics.
Ostryepolya (Not Two, 2013) documents two live performances by the
acoustic guitar duo of Elliott Sharp and Scott Fields
(may 2009 and march 2010).
Momentum Anomaly (august 2012) contains five solo acoustic e-bow guitar compositions, a follow-up of sorts to Velocity Of Hue and Quadrature.
This prolific stage of his career also yielded
the algorithmic score Flexagons (2011),
Storm Of The Eye (2012) for solo violin,
Turing Test (2012),
Persistence of Vision (2012),
the suite Tribute MLK Berlin '64 (2014),
the opera Port Bou (2014),
and the string quartets Tranzience (2013), Mare Undarum (2013) and Akheron (2014).
Akra Kampo (july 2014) contains duets with fellow guitarist Scott Fields.
Tranzience (New World, 2016) collects four compositions recorded in different years:
the 28-minute Tranzience (2013), which is another string quartet;
the ten-minute Approaching The Arches Of Corti (1997), which is a sax quartet;
the nine-minute Homage Leroy Jenkins (2008) for clarinet, violin and
piano; and the 12-minute Venus & Jupiter
(2012) for chamber ensemble.
Aggregat's Dialectrical (february 2016), again featuring Sharp on saxes and clarinets, boasted the new lineup of Taylor Ho Bynum (trumpet), Brad Jones (bass), Terry Green (trombone) and Barry Altschul (drums).
Boreal (Starkland, 2016) collects solo, chamber and orchestral music.
The four-movement Boreal (2009) is scored for string quartet equipped with custom bows swings between clownish whining and perverted jarring noise with sudden minimalist orgasms, and achieves its peak of pathos with the
whispered pizzicato of the fourth movement.
Oligosono (2004) for solo prepared piano exhibits a swinging geometry as
well as metronomic riffing and driving crescendoes
that create the effect of endless mirror reflections
(especially the second movement, which is a sort of allegro).
Proof of Erdos (2006) for orchestra
is yet another excursion by Sharp in the world of number theory and nonetheless
capable of yielding emotional moments such as the
gentle cacophony of the first movement and
the twisted waltz of the second.
On Corlear's Hook (2007) for orchestra is the rare pictorial composition
in Sharp's canon. The tense chirping morphs into the massive dramatic
suspenseful drones of the second with its thundering crescendo, and
the breezy harp-like fluttering of the third movement flows into the loud ferociously grotesque disorder of the fourth one.
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