Elliott Sharp

Quadrature: Solo Electroacoustic Guitar

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Quadrature is a fascinating set of solo acoustic guitar pieces. It's something of a continuation of similar ideas and techniques released as The Velocity of Hue, but this time out the pieces tend to be much longer, allowing Sharp to explore the techniques more deeply. The guitar was recorded using microphones and a pickup, yielding an extremely detailed recording that really allows all the different harmonics and overtones to be heard clearly. He uses a variety of tapping and slide techniques in addition to just picking and fretting, as well as a myriad of other extended techniques that owe a debt to Derek Bailey. But Sharp's playing sounds almost nothing like Bailey's: Sharp's pieces are quite linear, often with a driving rhythm, but certainly imbued with a sense of structure that is generally lacking in Bailey's more angular pieces. The range of sounds Sharp produces on an acoustic guitar is simply astonishing, and he's got a composer's sense of how and when to use them. There are some amazing tapping passages where you'll swear there's more than one guitar present (there isn't: no overdubs), and listen closely as Sharp adjusts his technique (or is it the mix?) to emphasize the shifting harmonics and overtones over what sounds like the same basic tones. The slide work is also very interesting, with strings ringing into volume swells or producing buzzing sounds with the slide extremely close to the vibrating strings. This is avant-garde, highly experimental music to be sure, but Sharp's ideas are focused and easy to follow, and the strong rhythmic and compositional elements ensure that attention does not wander. Sharp proves that there are still unexplored possibilities on the instrument after hundreds of years (or just shy of a hundred years if you count amplification), but best of all, it's a great listen for the open-eared. [This is the first release in the Zoar Portal Series, limited to 200 copies.]

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