Elliott Sharp, Melvin Gibbs, Lucas Niggli - Crossing The Waters (2013)

The more I get into Elliott Sharp's wide and eccentric output, the more I get disturbed by the fact that there are only a few listeners who're familiar with him. His latest release "Crossing The Waters" is a collaboration with bassist Melvin Gibbs (who has played as part of the Sonny Sharrock Band, and who also played with Sharp back in 2002, for "Raw Meet") and drummer Lucas Niggli (Steamboat Switzerland). "Crossing The Waters" is probably the most ingenious electric free jazz record of all time; it's subtle and it's not subtle, it's beautiful and it's ugly, it's Henry Flynt and it's James Brown, it fluxes and it bursts, it's perilous and it's protective, it cares about techniques and it doesn't care about techniques, it's minimal and it's maximal; it is all and it is none. With the sound layered into three, we hear Sharp's guitar/tenor sax from the left, Niggli's kicks and snares in the center, and oddly, Gibbs' bass from the right; what makes him sound like a second guitarist, which he more or less is. The achieved music, while not orchestrated, sounds radically strange to have such a discrete impact. The textural drones of songs 'Flow Fever' and 'Kayak' sound as Xenakis would have imagined a Tony Conrad piece in his unconscious, and the twisted improvisations in 'Waving High' and 'Transatlantic Tunnel' are as if any of the songs from the Carbon album "Monster Curve" would have found a way out of the groove and freed themselves. The record ends with the post-western anomaly 'Forellen', leaving you in a sonic desert after having crossed the mirage.