Guitarist-avant-gardist-provocateur Elliott Sharp is an acquired taste, much as Phill Niblock and others are. He's an inveterate iconoclast who spends most of his time oscillating between intriguing work and pointless noodling, the latter much like Eugene Chadbourne. His Tectonics CD (1995) was, to me, a complete waste of time—formulaic, if such can be said of that kind of electro-nonsensica, and as dead as the geological strata it took its title from—but Carbon (1984) was quite intriguing.
Sharp has issued a shitload of releases to varying acceptance and has performed with Nels Cline, Bobby Previte, John Zorn, and others. To my mind, a good deal of his output is modern primitivist, not terribly sophisticated and too often smacking of Holgar Czukay's post-Can dithering. This release follows form along with Russian electronicist Boris Savoldelli, who appears to be looking a little too uniformly to Hans Fjellestad's later mostly ignorable work (his initial Accretion release, Red Sauce Baby, was classic). Occasionally, affinities can be temporarily found to musical exotica like Pink Floyd's Small Species of Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict, as in sections of Prelude to Biocosmo Pt. One, but the truest tone here has more in alliance with the eccentric former Pink Floyd ally Ron Geesin, whose solo work is quirky and, honestly, largely forgettable.
There is, however, an admirable anarchic element drenching Protoplasmic in a completely sensorial immediacy kind of like an episodically kaleidoscopic drug trip. Thus, the relations to early Amon Duul, Red Crayola, and other long-departed ensembles can't be missed and more than a few flavors of the 60s electronicists and tape manipulators are readily heard, which is a blessing in and of itself. Reflective Mind and other segments strongly recall the heyday of Dodge, Druckman, Erb, early Subotnick, etc. Latterday tastes are not absent either, as in the e-bowed solo in Nostalghia recalling Richard Pinhas recalling Franco Falsini recalling Robert Fripp.
Protoplasmic will not be for everyone, rest assured, but for those who delight in randomic, wildly variegated, berserko, hammer. tongs, and kitchen sink music, well, it'll be irresistable. When I used to review for the i/e and E/I magazines, critiquing this stuff was a chore. It still is, but Protoplasmic, I hafta admit, is one of Sharp's better collaborations, strange, baffling, and dizzying as it is.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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