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Album Review

Recorded over the course of 1989 and 1990, Faith Moves is a series of duets between Sonny Sharrock and stringed-instrument whiz Nicky Skopelitis, whose taste for world music lends these sessions an exotic flair. The format is actually somewhat similar to Sharrock's Guitar album, where he accompanied himself on some fairly basic compositions that allowed him to soar into an overdubbed stratosphere. Here, of course, he has a partner, but the execution is oftentimes pretty similar, especially on the first half of the album. Six of the nine selections are studio improvisations, with overdubs added later to flesh out the sound or emphasize Sharrock's themes. Skopelitis creates a novel array of background textures with his arsenal of plucked string instruments: electric and acoustic guitars, six-string bass, the Greek baglama, the Turkish saz, the Iranian tar, and a '60s invention called the coral sitar, which was designed to supply futuristic (at the time) effects on Eastern-tinged psychedelic rock records. Actually, Skopelitis does bring out a subtle Eastern flavor in Sharrock's playing, as many of the selections have a base-point drone that's returned to continually. The free-form, reflective atmosphere is even more pronounced over the second half, where the Eastern flavors take a haunting, even ghostly turn and produce the most distinctive sounds on the record (tracks like "Sacrifice," "First of Equals," and "The Pyre"). These are frequently fascinating explorations that illuminate a neglected facet of Sharrock's singular style.


Born: 27 August 1940 in Ossining, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Of the electric guitar's few proponents in avant-garde jazz, Sonny Sharrock is easily the most influential; he was one of the earliest guitarists to even attempt free playing, along with Derek Bailey and Sonny Greenwich. Sharrock's visceral aggression and monolithic sheets of noise were influenced by the screaming overtones of saxophonists like Coltrane, Sanders, and Ayler, and his experiments with distortion and feedback predated even Jimi Hendrix. Naturally, he provoked much hostility among traditionalists,...
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