The composer and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp is one of the most striking personalities of the New York music scene. Along with John Zorn, Arto Lindsay, Bill Frisell and Marc Ribot, Sharp has been at the heart of the post 80s innovations which took improvised, composed and electronic music beyond their boundaries, to merge them with jazz, blues and rock. Since then Sharp has expanded his musical radius. He has composed an impressive body of work for string quartets, theatre and orchestras in addition to playing in jazz and improvising partnerships as well as creating sound-installations and conceptual works.
The band CARBON was first conceived in April 1983 to be an anti-silicon sound: earthy, jagged, pulsing, and direct. In nature, Carbon gives us diamonds on the one hand, gunpowder on the other. Raw beauty and combustibility: an appropriate metaphor for the music of Elliott Sharp. In summer 2009 Elliott Sharp reconvened Carbon and with Zeena Parkins, Marc Sloan, Juseph Trump and David Weinstein went to the Loho Studio in New York and recorded "Void Coordinates". "The music was recorded ‘live’ with a minimum of edits and overdubs – essentially, this is what Carbon sounds like in performance, operating in the service of groove and psycho-acoustic chemical change,» writes Elliott Sharp in an elaborate text in the CD booklet.
Nearly every album by guitar whiz Elliot Sharp intimates a sound-shaping experience, loaded with surprises and ingenuity. His long-running Carbon band is primarily steeped in hardcore avant-garde rock mania, spiced with sizzling meltdowns and free-jazz style improvisation.
On "Fermion," the quartet launches a haunting sonic assault, which at times may seem like anti-pop morphed with metal-lite. Zeena Parkins' resonating electric harp lines project a tuneful yet ominous vibe, as the band delves into a minimalist-hued motif, followed by Sharp's powerful crunch chords and drummer Joseph Trump's peppy backbeats. Moreover, the band surges into a musical netherworld, abetted by Sharp's psyched-out and fuzz-toned melee attack, atop flickering electronics effects and rippling chord progressions.
"Fermion" duly highlights, in particular, Carbon's idiosyncratic aura; Sharp's modus operandi often residing somewhere between neo jazz-fusion, avant psychedelic rock and galvanizing free form expressionism.
Glenn Astarita, AllAboutJazz, USA, August 31, 2010
Elliott Sharp’s Carbon was a key part of the loud Downtown rockism of the ‘80s. Alongside the exploratory outbursts of Naked City, the manic sloppiness of Shrek and the blues-rock proficiency of The President, Carbon represented a spirit of inventiveness with a prog-like precision. While the stature and varying projects of Sharp and the other members of the band (notably Zeena Parkins) grew, the band carried on until the mid ‘90s, even morphing into the large-scale Orchestra Carbon in their later years. The band resurfaced with last year’s limited edition live disc Serrate (on Sharp’s own Zoar label) and now solidifies their return with a set of eight new compositions recorded in studio for the Swiss label Intakt.
The band reunited here could be called the ‘classic’ Carbon, the band responsible for the 1991-95 recordings, which are the strongest that appeared under the name. Bolstering Sharp’s various electrified strings (and the occasional soprano sax) and Parkins’ electric harp are bass guitarist Marc Sloan, drummer Joseph Trump and David Weinstein on sampler and synthesizer. Coming together some 15 years later, the quintet is every bit as ready to dig into the metered, angular, pounding music Sharp composes for them. While the sound is certainly similar to other of Sharp’s projects - the mathematical structures and heavy polyrhythms are in full force - it’s a freer band than many that followed. Within the mix can be heard the punk energy of his (even) earlier days, the blues leanings of Terraplane and even some psychedelic use of electronic effects. But most and best, of all, the band sounds like Carbon, proving they have the density and stability of their namesake element.
Kurt Gottschalk, AllAboutJazz New York, USA, July 2010
released January 4, 2010
Elliott Sharp: 8-string guitarbass, guitar, soprano sax
Zeena Parkins: electric harp
Marc Sloan: electric bass, prepared bass
Joseph Trump: drums, percussion
David Weinstein: sampler, synthesizer
Compositions by Elliott Sharp, zOaR Music, BMI, 2009. Recorded Juli 2009 at Loho Studio, NYC by Matt Werden and Studio zOaR, NYC. Mixed and mastered at Studio zOaR. Liner notes: Elliott Sharp. Cover art: Shigdig. Booklet design: Jonas Schoder. Published by Intakt Records. Produced by Elliott Sharp and Intakt Recods, Patrik Landolt
supported by 10 fans who also own “Void Coordinates”
Reading these Hendrix-meets-Coltrane reviews, I couldn't resist this weeks Cuneiform Reecords special-offer. Again... ;-)
And yes, among many other things and the bands very own handwriting, at least in places above mentioned comparisons are valid. And while guitar and sax may take center stage, double bass and drums shine, too!
Cosmic music from the sweet sunny north... Carsten Pieper