Elliott Sharp / Scott Fields – Scharfefelder (CFG 003)
Two of Clean Feed’s best loved guitarists meet up “Scharfefelder” for a knotty, flinty series of performances based on compositional sketches the pair cooked up in advance. These kinds of exchanges can be quite compelling, particularly with two players so eager to achieve distance from everything even remotely associated with typical guitar duos. They do so without sacrificing their zeal for the basic characteristics of the instrument. For one thing, there’s lovely and quite dense counterpoint all over the place, notes replicating like pixels among the push-pull rhythms, string scrabble, and chiming harmonics of “Branedrane.” But the mood isn’t always antic or jittery. The music is disorienting but also quite reflective, even poignant on “Big, Brutal, Cold Raindrops.” Things billow out, or disperse like a droplet of soap in oily water, on “Minerali.” And they draw out long, looping lines that spool downward as tempo slackens on “Shuffle Through the Restaurateur Gauntlet.” Taken a track or two at a time, this stuff is bracing, though as an album my impression was that it went on for too long. As a whole, something about this music didn’t connect with me, and I consistently found it more impressive than enjoyable. Many listeners will dig this, as on some basic level it’s enough that two good guitarists play well together.
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