100

No: Sonny II

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Were it not for Bill Laswell's efforts in the '80s, guitarist Sonny Sharrock probably wouldn't have reached nearly as many ears as he did. Recordings like the 1991 masterpiece Ask the Ages shed light on his electric free/rock/energy leanings, though Sharrock was already making his first leaps as a leader with Black Woman (Vortex, 1969) and Monkey-Pockie-Boo (BYG, 1970; recently reissued), both unfortunately marred by Linda Sharrock's annoying vocalizations.

French guitarist Noël Akchoté outdoes Sharrock's relative obscurity by several notches in the not-so-vast netherworld of experimental improvising guitarists, despite his recordings for Winter & Winter, Rectangle, and other labels. But Akchoté has made no compromises with his music, which leans from jazz into ambience, abstraction, electronics, and noise. The solo disc Sonny II is part of "a long process of recordings" that pay tribute to Sonny Sharrock, and to the extent that Akchoté appreciates the importance of stretching the boundaries, he's got the essence well figured out.

Whether or not you get to read Akchoté's thoughts on the music (mysteriously missing from my copy's liner notes, but present on Winter & Winter's web site ), it becomes clear early on from listening that he views the rough, unfinished quality of Sharrock's approach as central to its success. That means not being afraid to do things "wrong" or make "mistakes," and not overintellectualizing the process while you're at it. There's something liberating about just leaping in there and playing the guitar.

These nineteen tracks include nine Sharrock originals, five Akchoté pieces, and assorted others that fit into the big picture one way or another. Almost half are under two minutes, and with the exception of the eight-minute closer, none of the rest persist at any length. That means maximum variety, which is a good thing, but also a wandering, nomadic feel that detracts from consistency. Regardless, none of this is easy listening anyway.

Highlights include Daniel Humair's fun, funky "Melvins"; a quick, soaring "She's Only Fourteen" (which appeared as "Fourteen" on Sharrock's Seize the Rainbow ); a joyous strum through "There is a Mountain," by Donovan Leitch (yes, that Donovan); and Akchoté's own droning "Joe" and weirdly exploratory "Terry." Akchote's clean, jazzy version of "Young and Foolish" comes with a heap of club background noise, and the appropriately-titled (at least in a relative sense) "Long Tale" that closes the record captures the sense of wandering that characterized some of Sharrock's work.

Sonny II is thoroughly flawed, to the extent it's disjointed and underdeveloped, and to some that might be reason enough for disqualification, but I don't think Noël Akchoté—or Sonny Sharrock—would have it any other way. To be sure, Akchoté doesn't pack the same raw, visceral punch that Sharrock did. But his roots are clear, his debts are paid, and this record is proof.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet" CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "The Company I Keep" CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Soul Garden" CD/LP/Track Review Soul Garden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "What Brought You Here?" CD/LP/Track Review What Brought You Here?
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.