Jason Sharp is a Montreal-based saxophonist who has collaborated and performed in many forward-thinking contexts. His debut album, A Boat Upon its Blood, uses his own heart rate and breath as sonic triggers, and the compositions are inspired by Robert Creeley's poem "The Heart."
"A Boat Upon its Blood (Pt 2)" could soundtrack Nicolas Winding Refn's best film, Valhalla Rising, with the sombre, creepy, mysterious and foggy atmosphere. It also evokes Mica Levi's deliciously pulsating score for Under the Skin.
The third part of "A Boat Upon its Blood" slowly builds from vibrating snare sounds to an almost militaristic fervour, with a figure in 7/8 time creeping into one's left ear around two minutes in, which then gets layered over around 2:30 with a 5/8 rhythmic figure in the right ear. It's technically compelling but also meditative in its freewheeling air.
"In the Construction of a Chest There Is a Heart" is driven by undulating breathy noises, almost along the lines of Tanya Tagaq's visceral throat singing. A recurring concept in all of these songs is the rhythms of the body, breath and heart rate as sources of musical material. However irregular the geometry, there is an idiosyncratic perfection here, as only nature is capable of.
"Still I Sit With You Inside Me (Pt 1)" cuts deep with a mournful violin melody and insistent bass drum (possibly a heartbeat?) amidst a whirl of other droning and swirling sounds. "Pt 2" follows a similar path, but is led by a chiming, post-rock-ish guitar motif.
And yet, the concept here is ancillary; the range of textures and dynamics (and the skill with which they are employed) are more than captivating and cohesive enough to draw listeners in and hold them rapt. ()