Elliott Sharp / Orchestra Carbon

Abstract Repressionism

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Abstract Repressionism is a seven-movement work composed for an expanded, orchestral version of Elliott Sharp's band Carbon. As the title hints, the music itself is vaguely political and emphatically abstract -- as Sharp explains in his liner notes, he sees society as becoming increasingly controlled by authoritarian forces determined to "(undermine) the ability of humans to process information and abstractify." Thus his score requires the musicians to manipulate and interpret pieces of musical raw material according to predetermined algorithmic rules -- a process of spontaneous, collective composition that creates abstraction by requiring the processing of information. Well. So how does it sound? Mostly it sounds like a bunch of people playing more or less whatever they feel like playing, and while the cognoscenti will nod their heads wisely and pretend to enjoy it, to most folks it's just going to sound like chaos. The best moments come during solos, such as Sharp's raucous and texturally sophisticated guitar/bass solo at the end of the fourth movement, or the percussion solo in the sixth. There are also some fascinating col legno passages at the beginning of the seventh movement. Most of the rest of this disc sounds like loud oatmeal.

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