Visual album premiere: Jason Sharp’s “The Turning Centre Of A Still World”
Jason Sharp is a saxophonist and electro-acoustic composer whose increasing focus on solo work since 2015 has yielded a unique corpus of music that fuses technology and the human body. Sharp blends a mastery of extended saxophone technique with customized microphones and electronics that translate his horn, breath and physical pulse into an array of triggers, samples and modular synthesis – resulting in formidable, visceral, highly evocative, and unfailingly musical works of electroacoustic biofeedback.
The Montréal artist is presenting his third album on Constellation, The Turning Centre Of A Still World in the form of a full visual album, made by Montréal-based experimental filmmaker Guillaume Vallée. Ornately abstract textural imagery forged from hand-processed and hand-painted Super8 film painstakingly edited by Vallée allows Sharp’s masterful and mesmerizing new music to occupy center stage while unfolding it into a sublime optical dimension. Vallée’s films will also be projected in upcoming live concerts via software that interacts with Sharp’s performance, altering and recombining the footage differently every time.
The filmmaker shares that the collaboration with Jason was an amazing and smooth audiovisual adventure: At the beginning, I was planning to work in a different way than I usually do, with a more minimal approach to the visual. But the more I listened to Jason’s album, the more it brought me elsewhere. I wanted to shoot everything on Super8 and hand-process the whole thing, to grasp the organicism and physicality of the music. Working with the film emulsion made sense to me, with hand-painting and chemical treatment, to get closer to my material and an intuitive symbiosis with the music. I used a film/video hybrid process, strongly inspired by the work of Al Razutis, a uniquely amazing multimedia artist and pioneer of the film/video hybrid process in the 70s (actually based in British Columbia). I was very happy that Jason was receptive to my process and I did the best I could to visually translate the complexity and beauty of this album.”.
Using saxophones, foot-controlled bass pedals and his own pulse – patched through a heart monitor routed to variegated signal paths that trigger modular synthesizers and samplers – Sharp paints with organic waves of glistening synthesis, pink noise and digitalia on The Turning Centre Of A Still World. Melodic strokes and harmonic shapes ripple and crest across ever-shifting seas, through an inclement cycle from dawn to dusk.
The Turning Centre Of A Still World is a singular sonic exploration of human-machine calibration, interaction, expression and biofeedback. These immersive, intensive, widescreen electronic compositions would sit comfortably as a masterful and stellar contribution to the space/sci-fi/synth soundtrack genre, owing to their overall sound palette and oceanic scope. But this is ultimately deeper, grittier, earthier stuff – pulsing with terrestrial granularity, charting subterranean geographies of the heart and soul. Dalhous’ Marc Dall gives some insights on the album.