Elliott Sharp | Syzygy

“Syzygy as musical score and as retinal work implies alignment but alignment does not imply rigidity of relationship just as conjunction does not equal synchronization nor even simultaneity. The images in Syzygy were all generated from one page of musical notation and are inextricably linked... Using a suite of processing strategies, the resultant images remain in a dynamic but oblique relationship with each other, always connected as they metamorphosize. They may be opposites, resonant bodies, or extrapolations. Syzygy defines the temporal alignment of celestial bodies within a gravitational system at one cosmic moment, but the correlation between these elements likewise holds as they follow their individual trajectories. Different scales yield differing degrees of correspondence. The straight line from a distance reveals the jagged and reticulated in magnification. Syzygy has roots in the Greek word zygon, meaning "yoke" and the derivative syzygos means "yoked together". One finds this same root in zygote, the union of two gametes. The union forms the junction, the union in time, the conjunction. The time may be aligned or displaced but the linkage remains to evolve Regarding generation, Syzygy continues with techniques developed during the creation of the graphic score Foliage, a work that was the result of translating the use of audio processing using modulation, feedback, filtering, and layering to analogous visual approaches using the graphic editing software Photoshop and Gimp operating directly on the musical notation. The output was both a direct manifestation of internal sound projection into the visual realm and visual work that reflected the rhythmic and melodic contours and varying densities of the music in a synesthetic feedback loop. To date, Syzygy exists in two radically different formats, created simultaneously. For a show at arToxin Gallery in Munich, the twelve pages of were printed on clear acetate and four groups of three were sandwiched together using magnetic spacers allowing illumination in the space to emphasize the temporal transformation within the unity. For the show at Erratum, the three pages in each group were displayed in linear form, end-to-end, displaced in time and space.” Elliott Sharp (NYC 2018)

• Track List

Disc 1 - Studio

1 - Syzygy Studio 1

2 - Syzygy Studio 2

3 - Syzygy Studio 3

4 - Syzygy Studio 4

Disc 2 - Live

1 - Syzygy Live 1

2 - Syzygy Live 2

3 - Syzygy Live 3

4 - Syzygy Live 4

All compositions by Elliott Sharp


• Personnel

Elliott Sharp - guitar, computer devices 

Steve Piccolo - voice, el.bass, object(s) 

Giancarlo Schiaffini - trombone 

Walter Prati - el.cello 

Francesca Gemmo - piano 

Gak Sato - theremin 

Sergio Armaroli - vibraphone


• Recording Data

Total time 52:11+52:05 STEREO DDD

(p) 2019 DODICILUNE (Italy)

(c) 2019 DODICILUNE (Italy)




Produced by Sergio Armaroli, Elliott Sharp and Dodicilune edizioni, Italy

Label manager Maurizio Bizzochetti (www.dodicilune.it)

Studio recordings on 20th October 2018 by Piergiorgio Miotto 

at Studio “Il Pollaio”, Ronco Biellese (Bi), Italy

Live recordings on 21st October 2018 at Teatro Tertulliano, Milan, Italy

Mixed November/December 2018 at Sharp Studio, New York, USA

Mastered January 2019 at Sharp Studio, New York, USA

Sound engineer Elliott Sharp

Photos by Luisa Mizzoni

Contact: www.elliottsharp.com; www.erratum.it; www.cittasonora.org

Si ringrazia l'Associazione Città Sonora, in particolare Claudio Chianura, Francesca Gemmo e Steve Piccolo, senza il cui contributo questo progetto non sarebbe nato.

Thanks to Città Sonora Association, especially to Claudio Chianura, Francesca Gemmo and Steve Piccolo, without whose contribution this project would not have been born.


Photo by ©Luisa Mizzoni

Photo by ©Luisa Mizzoni

reviews | recensioni

Syzygy is the new album by Elliott Sharp - American multi-instrumentalist, composer and performer. Central figure of the avant-garde and experimental music scene in New York for over 30 years, he has published more than eighty-five record projects ranging from orchestral music to blues, from jazz to noise, from no wave to techno.

The work was produced by the record label of Salento Dodicilune. The disc is divided into two sections: the first consisting of tracks recorded in the studio and the second part live (the first recorded in the studio "Il Pollaio" by Ronco Biellese and the second in a live at the Teatro Tertulliano in Milan). All compositions are by Sharp and have the same title as the album followed by a number in chronological order.

This disc perpetuates the author's experimental tradition. You will listen to so many strange and bizarre things that, perhaps, one day you will be able to hear in something, and in a different way, more accessible to ordinary mortals.

In questo doppio cd la stessa composizione, divisa in quattro parti, viene eseguita prima in studio poi dal vivo (a Milano). Il chitarrista newyorkese s'avvale di una squadra tutta italiana (label e musicisti) nel predisporre un'opera complessa, basata sulla rotazione dei pianeti, sulle scale musicali dell'antica Grecia, su una dinamica relazionale in grado di mixare tecnologie, improvvisazioni, scritture, nel solco della miglior ricerca postdodecafonica.

Guido Michelone, Alias | il manifesto

Immaculately recorded by Italian label Dodicilune, Elliott Sharp's Syzygy

continues Sharp's explorations of spontaneous and improvisatory sound. He

and his collaborators offer up studio versions of Syzygy on the first disc and live versions of the material on disc two. As much modern classical as abstract jazz, it is the musical textures and abstractions

that give the album its dream-like eeriness.

The instrumentation offers a twist as well—eschewing drums, Sharp

populates his music with computer devices, "objects," and the theremin,

an instrument comprised of two metal antennas that allows the

musician, in this case Gak Sato, to control the frequency and the

volume of the sounds emitted. The result is a music that is a bit Outer

Limits—as though one were listening in the vacuum of space.

According to Sharp, "Syzygy defines the temporal alignment of celestial

bodies within a gravitational system at one cosmic moment...." Within

this "gravitational system" the musicians contribute harmonic and

rhythmic impulses that keeps the music shifting (and at times revolving

and rolling), not unlike passing through chambers of doors that open

and close again and again. Listening to Giancarlo Schiaffini slide about

on the trombone (sounding at time like a French horn as much as a

trombone), while Walter Prati strokes and bows the cello and Sergio

Armaroli adds plinks and splashes on the vibraphone, opens the

imagination. And Francesca Gemmo's effort, whether it is repetitive

bass notes, dark piano string thumping or eerie dissonance, gives the

album a weightlessness that help sustain the atmospherics. Sharp stays

in the mix, though his guitar, like Piccolo's bass and vocals, is more

often used for effect than any straightforward playing. But that's fine—

after all, the abstract interplay of these musicians is "in the 'cosmic'


Like Dada, the music of Syzygy seems radical. Is Sharp questioning the

nature of music, its syntax, and vocabulary? Possibly. Or is it an attempt

at expressing physical notions of reality in music? Like other works of

art, the resolution to these questions lies with the listener.