Elliott Sharp: There is both ease and difficulty in an ongoing collaboration, especially one between two guitarist composers. We now both have a good sense of each others’ language on the instrument — not just the surface shape and form but the underlying syntax and substance. This allows for a flow and interlock of sounds and ideas, the ability to complete each others’ sentences, a relaxed interpretation and expansion of our compositional personalities.
Scott Fields: Our handful of gigs and recording sessions have exposed commonalities and contrasts, as composers and as instrumentalists. We are both interested in fuzzing up relationships between written and improvised sounds, rejecting the free-jazz model in which heads are matched with unrelated blowing. Our methods of obfuscation, however, differ. One tends to offer large themes for metamorphication. The other often works with fragments and asynchronism. But by now each has a pretty good handle on what the other is getting at.
Elliott Sharp: The difficulty lies in that very relaxation. As with every creative history, there is a fine line between style and self-parody, between exploring our identities and falling prey to cliché.
Scott Fields: Our emphasis on composition, and specifically composition for the relatively narrow dynamic range and timbral pallet of paired steel-string, acoustic guitars, directs us away from dependence on muscle memory and set phrases. These structures focus us on interactions that grow out of our immediate reactions to how each of us is, in the moment, interpreting the material.
Elliott Sharp: With Afiadacampos, I feel that Scott and I have deepened our ability to improvise together and to orchestrate compositional strategies, pointing the way to our future work together.
Scott Fields: What occurs to me is that we might tackle the work of other composers, if necessary rearranged for the duo.
Elliott Sharp and Scott Fields
 Pleonica 04:14
 Earth Ecology: Fishes Emplore God 05:08
 The Great Red Spot 03:57
 Love Not Green Eggs 09:15
 Krash Area 06:25
 The Iconography Of Shame 08:31
 Delta Delta 05:20
 Sun Figtree 05:47
 Convolution Now! 09:05
total time: 57:41
Compositions by Scott Fields (02 | 04 | 06 | 08) and Elliott Sharp (01 | 03 | 05 | 07 | 09)
On this recording Elliott Sharp plays a 1985 Thomas Reg’n guitar, Scott Fields plays a 1998 Collings OM-2H guitar
Sharp e Fields hanno diverse cose in comune: sono due chitarristi, compositori e improvvisatori decisamente non convenzionali e hanno entrambi due cervelli “lucidi” che ben risaltano nella foto sotto al digipack nella bella confezione di questo Afiadacampos, cd prodotto nel 2010 per la eccellente Neos Jazz e seguito ideale di “Scharfefelder” uscito su Clean Feed. Armati rispettivamente di una Thomas Reg’n del 1985 e di una Collings OM-2H del 1998, i due camerati si dividono piacevolmente i compiti, gli obblighi compositivi (5 tracce sono accreditate a Elliott e 4 a Fields) e anche il canale destro e sinistro, cosa che rende particolarmente piacevole l’ascolto in cuffia del disco.
Il termine “composizione” deve essere comunque accettato con molta riserva. Afiadacampos è sostanzialmente un disco di improvvisazioni, anche se in gran parte strutturate. Come fa notare lo stesso Fields nelle note entrambi i musicisti sono “interested in fuzzing up relationships between written and improvised sounds, rejecting the free-jazz model in which heads are matched with unrelated blowing”. Quello che li differenzia è il modo a cui tendono a questi risultati: “one tends to offer large themes for metamorphication. The other often works with fragments and asynchronism.” Ad ogni modo sono riusci a combinare i loro diversi stili in maniere eccellente e molto proficua, i brani sono il frutto di ideali conversazioni cerebrali tra i due chitarristi, sotto forma di aspri cluster melodici che rimbalzano tra provocatori salti di registro e casuali passaggi classici. Questa sembra essere la non-formula di ogni loro improvvisazione, basata su una divisione tra funzioni melodiche, ritmiche ed armoniche, in combinazioni diverse con i suoni delle chitarre che turbinano e si incrociano tra loro a volte in modo calmo e rassicurante a volte lasciando l’ascoltatore disorientato.
Il disco è davvero molto interessante e soprattutto registrato in modo eccellente. Il timbro acustico è ripreso in modo superbo, così come gli effetti percussivi sulle casse e i manici delle chitarre e ogni brano offre almeno un paio di sfaccettature intriganti che Sharp e Fields sanno investigare e sfruttare implacabilmente fino in fondo. Questo lavoro mi convince perché il loro approccio è completo e risoluto, non caratterizzato da futili e sterili virtuosismi. Consigliatissimi agli ascoltatori affamati di nuove idee e di nuovi approcci per la chitarra acustica. Ascoltatelo ad alto volume, sentirete la stanza riverberare.
By Paul Acquaro
According to Scott Fields’ website, this recording with Elliot Sharp, Afiadacampos, came out in 2010, which on the cusp of 2012, makes me a little more than fashionably late. Apologies for my tardiness, however, I am pleased to report the music has not aged a bit. I think the first thing that stuck out to me on this recording is just how nicely recorded the steel string acoustic guitars sound.
Since they are rather indistinguishable sonically, the separation is done via left and right channel making this a nice album to listen to via the headphones. The sound swirls and coalesces in time and space, sometimes disorientingly, sometime soothingly. Typical a guitar duo, which is a favorite configuration of mine, relies on a division between melodic, rhythmic and harmonic functions, in varying combinations. Here, the duties seem split melodic/melodic, harmonic/texture, texture/melodic, basically everything but what you may expect.
The songs are reactions and cerebral conversations between the guitarists. Just to take one song at random, say, ‘I Love Not Green Eggs’ apart, one would hear every aforementioned interaction, with sharp melodic cluster bouncing off string scrapes and defiant low register plucks. Almost classical passages sit atop randomness. This is the un-formula of each improvisation.
If there is a complaint to lodge, it would be that about half-way through the recording that the improvizations begin to blend into each other. However, just in time, the tracks ‘Delta Delta’ and ‘Sun Figtree’ negates that criticism as vigorous rhythms and knotty textures are effectively deployed. It all works to create a rather interesting and provocative set of acoustic explorations.
This is something I’d recommend to listeners who are adventurous,thirsty for something different, and appreciate the many sounds of the steel string acoustic guitar.
Elliott Sharp and Scott Fields
Both proven improvising guitarists and composers, two lucid cerebrums shining under the spotlight in the digipak’s inside photo, Sharp and Fields present the second recorded chapter of an ongoing partnership after Scharfefelder on Clean Feed. Armed with, respectively, a 1985 Thomas Reg’n and a 1998 Collings OM-2H — hold your drooling, jealous handlers of cheap Taiwanese imitations — the comrades cancel the obnoxious smell of scalar mustiness and rubber-nose electric tones completely, also sharing the compositional duties (five tracks are by E#, four by SF).
Don’t let the “compositional” term fool you, though. There’s a lot of improvisation in the 57 minutes of Afiadacampos — and, for the large part, of the finely structured kind. As the Chicagoan himself puts it, the pair is “interested in fuzzing up relationships between written and improvised sounds, rejecting the free-jazz model in which heads are matched with unrelated blowing”. Not a truer word: even when the instruments are tuned according to specific ratios (as in “Earth Ecology”) a logical sense underlies the interplay, clouds of hovering harmonics fighting first, revealing splendid rainbows later. This writer made the ultimate test, abandoning the listening room to hear how the adjacent partials were received at a distance; there was more harmony in what was caught by the ears at that moment than in an archetypal duet. That peculiar synchronization is the fruit of shrewdly elicited resonant interferences, to which a reactive listener should adapt instead of remaining mouth agape, waiting for the habitual dose of Superlocrian-spiced sticky molasses and chordal clichés.
The acoustic timbres superb, the percussive aspect explored through tapping on necks and bodies, nicely coarse eBowed drones and dented strings (“Delta Delta”) and bionic rasgueados altering the values in the commonly intended aesthetic scale; each piece offers at least a couple of intriguing facets that Sharp and Fields investigate and exploit implacably. Their work convinces because the approach is thorough and resolute, not characterized by the grasshopper-like futility of sterile digital virtuosity. This might be one of the best guitar albums of 2010, worthy of being played loud and often. The house will be thankful.