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When guitarists Elliott Sharp and   Scott Fields get together, they don’t seem to have any interest in making things easier. Their latest album Akra Kampoj continues their experiment, forsaking traditional structures and sounds for something more questing. Across these eight tracks (four composed by each artist), the duo flit and twitter through tonal experiments, looking more at textures and sounds that can be dragged from electric guitars than anything else.

Much of the album follows the argument set forth by opener “Bagsant”, even if it’s rhythmically steadier than much of what follows. Sharp and Fields use sharp skritches to build up their atmosphere and then to move through it, hinting at but never accepting a groove. In a sense, the play with time and subtle change speaks to an affected version of minimalism, except the guitarists provide an ever persistent presence in their playing, occasionally in technical runs or in surprising feints at song.

The playing could easily be lost in the ether (“Bagsant” might stick around too long), but the players’ abstractions find roosts across the album. Sharp’s “Pingo” provides the first grounding point. The duo delivers a thicker sound, with hints of noise-rock that almost become something more tangible. Where much of the album skitters, this one grinds — it’s the machine in the ghost.

“Denisova Stomp” also puts sand on the ice. While it retains the duo’s sense of reach, there are brief moments that loosely connect to more traditional sounds. There’s a mid-piece thrust at krautrock, but Sharp and Fields remain unwilling to resolve it into a groove. Likewise, there’s tense fuzz that sounds like an intro, but instead of collapsing into a 1970s anthem, it turns itself around into a dissipation.

Outside of those few moments, the album mostly relies on quick, nervous guitar work (with built-in breathing space). While the music scuttles forward, there’s an urgency to it. There’s little to no linearity to the compositions, yet they push forward. The album coheres around a general aesthetic more than a sequencing, but the pieces do follow their explorations from “Bagsant” through a proper closing with “Transester”. That closing number holds up steady tones, signifying the closure to come. The piece is as busy at its predecessors, but less frantic, allowing a sort of calm release as it settles at the finish.

Akra Kampoj is, not surprisingly, another heady album, with its rewards hidden among scattering guitar sounds. If it feints at songs and riffs, the misdirection adds to the pleasures, which aren’t carelessly found, but grow out of shifting tonalities and sonic challenges. — Justin Cober-Lake, Dusted Magazine



From the opening notes of   “Bagsant” you can hear that you are in for a guitar heavy treat. With at least 12 electrified strings between Sharp and Fields, they choose play a single note figure basically differentiated only by the tone of their guitars — the left side is fuzzier. Small changes make all the difference until their lines diverge and the song opens up. “Denisova Stomp” features some rapid melodic lines and delicate intersections but then becomes quite heavy towards the end. The elements of the track are many and varied, changing textures and tones will swing from quiet to fearsome at the flick of a pick. This duo obvious chemistry is not without some history. I last checked in with Fields and Sharpe back in 2012 when I reviewed Afiadacampos, which is an acoustic effort. Either way, acoustic or electric, this is the work of two master musicians, who together create a fascinating world straddling composition and improvisation. — Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz Blog



Rätselhaft der CD-Titel, rätselhaft   bzw. witzig die acht Songtitel dieses avantgardistisch-kakophonischen Idealpaars der US-Gitarristen Elliott Sharp und Scott Fields. Sharp ist der radikale kraftstrotzende Star unter den improvisierenden Neutönern. Fields, der Wahl-Kölner, ist am besten als Lyriker, als Champion der virtuosen Deformation (vgl. “Haydn” 2014), der fein ziselierende Bastler fragiler Klanggewebe. Unter den Tisch gespielt kriegt Sharp ihn dennoch nicht. Ob Scott draufknallt oder streichelt, hängt sehr davon ab, in welcher seiner vielen Besetzungen er zu Werke geht. In diesem Tandem jedenfalls schenkt keiner keinem was, vom Start weg mit “Bagsant”, einem irren Siebenminüter in ziemlich schrillen Minimalismus. Der löst sich dann so geht das oft zu — auf und mündet in den Dialog, der nur bedingt als solcher erkennbar, aber dennoch spannend ist, ein seltsam amorpher Organismus, der in sehr eigenwilligen Köpfen gedeiht, zirpende, knisternde Singlenotes plus irrwitzige Läufe.

“The (Carrington) event” wird zur Erholung, ein Nocturnal. Kirchturmuhr, nächtliches schattenhaftes Gewusel und Geflatter in engen Gassen. Dem Duo geht’s wie Scott selber: Am besten ist er in leiseren, ruhigeren Stücken und Passagen, Undurchschau- bzw. Hörbares transparent machen. Dann neun Minuten “Pingo”, Chaos, Terror im Vorzimmer zur Apokalypse, fast zehn Minuten Minimalismus im “Denisova stomp” vor allem als insistentes Melken von Tönen und Klängen — das Spiel mit dem Entsetzen, ein Aufstand reifer Männer. “Moinked” wird zum entfernten Verwandten des “Event” -Stücks mit etwas mehr Volumen, verdruckster Nostalgie für einen Ausdruck einfacher, klarer Klänge und Melodien. Und Akkordpassagen a la Wir können auch ganz anders, aber wollen nicht. Und schließlich “Transester“ als kurzweilige Entdeckung von Melodie, Rapport und der Bereitschaft zu kleinen Kompromissen. Die könnte es gern öfter geben als Helfer zur Klärung der alten, leicht variierten Frage: Was wollten die Musici mit alledem sagen? — Alexander Schmitz,   Jazz Podium