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Elliott Sharp: Chansons Du Crepuscule

Don Phipps By

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In Chansons Du Crepuscule, the French multi-genre vocalist, harpist, composer and improvisor Hélène Breschand hooks up with the multi-genre New York guitarist Elliott Sharp to yield spell-binding music of the first order. This fascinating collaboration crosses musical genres as easily as a nuthatch jumps from a birch tree to a cedar and then to a hickory. But since jazz has elements of all music embedded within its frame work, it's not a significant leap to suggest that Chansons Du Crepuscule falls within the broader outlines of the category.

There's a radical sense of play in this music. Breschand's French poetry and vocal expression perfectly accompanies the experimental elements of Sharp's guitar work. Take for example the opening cut, the aggressive and rollicking cave dance "Extase," with its coyote howls at the moonlight. Or consider Sharp's monkish chants that seem to emanate from dark chambers in "La langue dans ma bouche." Then there's "Je t'aime tant"—a slow sauntering across a dreamscape of sound. Breschand uses her voice to great affect at the 2-minute mark, as she slides her vocal up and down in a plaintive plea.

The duo cover "The Cuckoo," a traditional blues tune. Clearly a highlight, Sharp starts with a bluesy riff that rolls like a slow night drive down a Tom Waits greasy-spoon lined backstreet alley. Sharp accompanies this riff with a deep vocal that provides two drops of the sinister with a pinch of the surreal. The closing minute, when the guitar takes off on a flight of fancy, stretches the imagination.

The peaceful "Amor" provides another dimension. It begins with the lower register of Sharp's guitar and winds through an hallucinogenic Breschand vocal and harp in a solemn, almost prayerful expression. The "Le bloque cri" suggests a room of mirrors, where sounds seem to bounce off each other underneath the soulful Breschand vocal. The surreal effect is bolstered by the vocals of Sharp at the 3:40 mark.

Consider this edge-walking music—where the id meets the ego—skirting the surfaces and ridges of sound while pushing the listener along its explorations. Nowhere is this walk more lyrical than in the song "Le dernier." It reminds one of some lost black and white New Wave cinematic scene of lovers walking along the Seine.

Pity those who live their lives without open ears. Pity those who live their lives without jazz. And pity those who fail to give this music a spin. This music is that good. Highly recommended.

Track Listing: Extase; La langue dans ma bouche; Je t’aime tant; Ne lui dis rien; Goutte A goutte; The Cuckoo; Amor; Le bloque cri; Nouveau monde; Le dernier mot; Chose Rose

Personnel: Elliott Sharp: Guitar, Vocals; Hélène Breschand: Harp, Vocals

Title: Chansons Du Crepuscule | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Public Eyesore

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