Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Short History of Vodka

I just heard A Short History of Vodka by Elliott Sharp and Ronny Someck for the first time today. I'm going to have to spend some more time with this one. It is outstanding.

I've long been a fan of Revenge of the Stuttering Child. It's on my short list of great text collaboration works as Someck's poetry is incredible and Sharp backs it up with an intensity that matches the stories and episodes of the poems perfectly.

A Short History of Vodka is a different experience from the overdub-rich Revenge of the Stuttering Child. Each poem receives two tracks. The first is a brief reading by Ronny Someck with Elliott Sharp providing a matching texture on acoustic guitar. The second track is then a longer solo guitar composition/improvisation that spins off from the energy of the poem. This format works well. The words are allowed to unfold at a natural, spoken pace that preserves a natural intensity that then feeds into some exquisite guitar textures. Elliott Sharp has developed a fantastic sonic vocabulary for the acoustic guitar. The mismatched pacing required for the text and music is preserved with this format. The result is immensely satisfying.

The 6 poems on A Short History of Vodka are all in Hebrew. English translations are provided in the liner notes and well worth reading and savoring. Not being fluent in the spoken language I can't say whether or not the lack of immediate understanding of the recorded sound bypasses my normal text composition anxieties. The intensity of the delivery carries the feeling almost as if the language was native to my ears.

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