With a fair few links to some of Constellation Record’s previous releases, (including Land of Kush, Matana Roberts and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra), experimental musician and composer Jason Sharp offers his debut album A Boat Upon Its Blood. Combining elements of jazz, drone and musique concrete, packaged into a highly experimental album experience, we see Sharp truly pushing forth his own creative vision. Although it can sometimes become quite an abrasive and harsh album experience, the sheer creativity and scope of the project itself makes the album itself a highly interesting experience to undertake.
A Boat Upon Its Blood draws influence from Robert Creeley’s poem ‘The Heart’ (Where the album’s title comes from). Using this as a recurrent theme, Sharp brings together a number of experimental motifs together, structuring it in a thoughtful and powerful way. Whilst Sharp’s own skills with saxophone’s and synthesizers are apparent on the record, he instead doesn’t seem to completely take the limelight, and instead allows himself and his guest performers to equally contribute to the overall vision of the album itself, allowing it to be expressed effortlessly and naturally.
Although a highly creative and intelligent album experience, as with all experimental music there is the discussion of how to approach such an album, as well as how one begins to take in all that is being expressed. At times, A Boat Upon Its Blood is almost violent, creating a somewhat uncomfortable experience for the listener. It seems though that this isn’t done merely for the sake of it, but instead has a context when considered with the whole album experience itself. Even the most experimental and radical section in any given song feels meticulously considered and well placed, giving a greater understand to the context of the work.
It’s perhaps difficult to really know where to begin with albums such as these, but when a listener simply sits back and lets the music push along its journey, they are rewarded with an incredibly interesting experience that can sometimes be difficult to put into words. Whilst some artists tend to throw in as many ideas as they possibly can into their debut albums, Sharp instead refines and develops key specific concepts on his debut instead, giving everything a clearly defined edge in presenting itself, rather than sounding like an amalgamation of half-formed ideas or a showcase of skill over talent. Sharp has certainly made the right choices here, and as a result, as produced a stunning debut.