ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Boris Savoldelli & Elliott Sharp - 2009 - "Protoplasmic"

(49:30, Moonjune Records)



1.  A-Quantic 4:58
2.  Noises in My Head 3:00
3.  Prelude to Biocosmo-1 7:19
4.  Black Floyd 1:38
5.  Reflective Mind 3:35
6.  Nostalghia 4:22
7.  A Meeting in a Park 1:24
8.  Khaotic Life 6:01
9.  Prelude to Biocosmo-2 6:10
10. Dig It 9:03


Boris Savoldelli – vocals, voices; electronics
Elliott Sharp – guitars; electronics (+ sax: 10) 

Prolusion. As is clear already from the heading of this review, “Protoplasmic” is a collaborative effort of Boris SAVOLDELLI and Elliott SHARP, an Italian singer and an American guitarist, respectively, both of whom additionally deploy electronics here – Savoldelli apparently for the first time ever. I heard that Elliott has performed with John Zorn and has some solo releases besides this one, but I’m unacquainted with any of those. As for Boris, back in April he sent me both the CDs he had in his general discography at that time, “Holzwege” by SADO (an Italian outfit that he’s an official member of) and his solo album “Insanology”, which I regard as the best of the three creations he has to date, at least at the moment (to be reviewed somewhat later, as I need to play it a couple more times).

Analysis. The press kit of “Protoplasmic” says that it took one day for the duo to create the album, hinting that it was recorded live in the studio. To me, however, it sounds like the men spent quite a few studio hours to make it and that there are quite a few overdubs on it. Although I wouldn’t insist that those suppositions are the truth in the last instance, I still can’t imagine how Elliott would simultaneously play an electric and acoustic guitar, and Boris would imitate a choir of several persons, manipulating electronics at the very same moment, while all this is distinctly heard on both Prelude to Biocosmo-1 and Reflective Mind, most if not all of the other eight pieces presented quite often appearing as being relatively multi-layered in structure, also. Unlike “Holzwege”, this recording is rather poor in vocal or rather verbal extravaganzas, and the sole track where those are really annoying – the one that encloses the rear, so to speak – Dig It, seems to be generally designed in a way to kick the listener out into the world of complete abstraction, where there is no place even for the laws of Lobatchevsky, let alone the Euclidean ones. Yes, this means that the rest of the material has a less striking incidental feeling, which, in turn, is due to a greater degree to Boris’s singing than to what he and his partner do as instrumentalists. Whether he provides lyrics-based vocals (which are only available on the two-part piece Prelude to Biocosmo, though) or does vocalizations, his efforts never leave the impression of being done without a sense of purpose and, by the way, he perfectly imitates a female voice, an operatic one in particular, doing so in a highly diverse manner most of the time. In the middle of the aforementioned Reflective Mind a virtual female operatic choir – both very unexpectedly and effectively – transforms into a male one, while A-Quantic has an episode which paints a picture of the Siberian taiga and a shaman who reads some incantations, plus there are some fine, classically bluesy guitar solos in the piece’s finale. That said, the disc opener is the only track that evokes some visible images all over its length, although instrumentally, there is a good deal in common between it and a series of the following ones. Save that very Dig It, a strange, yet quite original, combination of seemingly prepared and totally freeform moves typifies all the aforesaid creations, and also Noises in My Head, Nostalghia and Black Floyd. Within the former sheets of the stuff Sharp provides long, drawn-out (more frequently acoustic than electric) guitar solos as well as pizzicatos and – sometimes – riffs, laying down a kind of rhythmic base with a more or less stable structure in which electronics embed now, say, merely droning, pulsating-and-echoing features, now overtly odd ones. Although the ‘groove’ can be repeated a few times running, the new one appears as if from nowhere, and since none of the changes in ‘direction’ are constitutive, it is pointless to look for any logicality in the implied transitions. As for another side of you know what, I’d better omit to detail it. For instance, A Meeting in a Park appears as a surrealistic, Salvador Dali painting-evoking entity rather than an alien/cacophonic one only because it contains a vocalization. In spite of its title, Khaotic Life less often brings to mind the concept of chaos then that of eclecticism, and by the way it reminds me in places of The Waiting Room from “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” by Genesis. But then, one of the track’s segments represents a (simply gigantic, plus mixed: sic) virtual choir that – along with a few (perhaps multi-tracked) guitar lines – seems to be trying to paraphrase something from avant-garde academic music, which however doesn’t work at all, since those cascades-and-avalanches of voices, etc, create a mishmash of dissonances and atonalities and are as necessary there as a crutch for a healthy man or as a fifth leg for an animal. Whether Dig It is an offering or demand, the bearer of that title itself is spontaneity married to randomness, so I’ll never get into it as it’s simply beyond me. I hate the linearity of our earthly time and, being a fan of Carlos Castaneda (to name quite a few mystics: I even dig Philip Dick at his craziest), I’m always willing to change consciousness via music, but only so as to widen – not to entangle – it.

Conclusion. Almost forgot: When listening to “Protoplasmic” I was reminded a few times of Cipher. So if we view this release as a sound-design creation (and I believe we can, at least in some ways) it will certainly be the best of those. Either way, I would beware of recommending it to lovers of progressive music, no matter that it has zero commercial potential. Now, that I’m already acquainted with all three of the recordings with his participation, I’ll dare to ask Boris: please find a better application for your – truly remarkable – talent.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: September 14, 2009
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Moonjune Records
Boris Savoldelli
Elliott Sharp


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