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Sharp, Elliott

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Music, People.

(1951-    ). US avant-garde classical composer. A restlessly inventive artist, Sharp has released nearly a hundred albums (as solo projects or in collaboration with many other figures), a good number of which evidence interest in sf, broadly conceived; although without lyrical or deictic pointers, such an identification is arguable in some cases. Sharp is an aesthetically promiscuous musician who works with minimalism, atonal and noise-experimentation as well as elements of pop music; many of his pieces are based on mathematical algorithms of various degrees of complexity. With so prolific a figure, it is only possible to gesture briefly at significant works. The spiky, aurally wrongfooting "science fictional atmospherics" of Sferics (1996) (tracks include "Event Horizon", "Gamma Return") are characteristically intricate, and as deft at sidestepping the banal satisfactions of traditional classical music as any of Sharp's oeuvre. Arc 3: Cyberpunk & the Virtual Stance (1998) is a muscular, improvisatory ensemble piece that presumably has some relationship to the Cyberpunk literary movement. The two albums In The Land of the Yahoos (1987) and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Yahoos (1992) (both recorded in collaboration with a large number of other musicians, including Paul Garrin [1957-    ], Shelley Hirsch [1952-    ] and many others) are complexly worked-through barbaric yawps that give voice to Swift's sub-men. The challenging string quartets of Xenocodex (1996, recorded with "The Soldier String Quartet"), especially the first quartet "X-Topia", actualize a bristly alien-ness of idiom. Sharp recently composed the music for Toni Dove's ongoing avant-garde sf film Spectropia: A Ghost Story on the Infinite Deferral of Desire (2000-current); an album, Spectropia Suite, was released in 2010. [AR]

Elliott Sharp

born Cleveland, Ohio: 1 March 1951


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