Octal Book Two CD - Clean Feed

There are guitar heroes and there are guitar icons. Elliott Sharp is an icon: an individualistic iconoclast. Sharp has been an important part of the New York City avant-garde and experimental scene since the late 1970s, and his projects have shifted from new classical to electronic dance and from bebop reinterpretations to unique sound explorations. On Octal Book Two Sharp continues to use decidedly arcane and idiosyncratic structures, inspired by his studies of math and science, in particular Lisa Randall's work. The seven highly organized but improvised tracks, which range from just over five minutes to more than 12 minutes, were achieved using an electric eight-string guitar/bass prototype with no digital enhancements, overdubs, or processing.

Sharp's creativity and technical virtuosity is on full display. There are multiple variations on pre-selected tunings, which provide an aesthetic polyrhythmic approach to aptly titled "Fluctuations of Horizon," where Sharp's two hands produce layers akin to two guitarists performing. Sharp attains a similar stance on the frenetic "P-branes and D-branes," where several guitar pickups furnish overlapping deep bass and upper register tones. Oscillations and feedback give the epic, closing drone "Inverted Fields" an eerie, industrial quality.

Octal Book Two is not for tyros but Sharp fans will find much to appreciate, including liner notes on microphones, amps, and so on.

By Doug Simpson




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