Sherman Ho: three albums

Sherman Ho: Zreakequo!!

Sherman Ho: Erioplke orary ellerk, gruwlly?

Sherman Ho and Augustin Brousseloux: Square

Sherman Ho is an improvising guitarist from Hong Kong. Previously part of the avant rock / improvisation group Yellow Crystal, he’s released several albums – some solo, some collaborations – over the past few months, They’re worth investigating, especially if, like me, you’re interested in artists exploring the legacy of the innovations ushered in by the European free improvisation scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Zreakequo!! and Erioplke orary ellerk, gruwlly? are acoustic guitar improvisations. They’re airy, exploratory recordings, addressing the radical sundering of harmony and structure that are hallmarks of free improvisation.

And, while it’s true that the figure of Derek Bailey looms large over these two albums, Sherman has managed to open up some of the cracks and fissures in Bailey’s style.

The result is a more fluid take on the Sheffield master’s technique, ending up somewhere between Bailey’s sharp elbowed clusters of dissonance and Japanese axe-wielder Tetuzi Akayama’s spacious playing.

These two albums engage – almost assimilate – that idiom. Sherman seems to be conjuring up Bailey’s spirit in order to dance with it, his spiky guitar figures poking and prodding before dissolving like clouds after a rainstorm.

Of the two, Zreakequo!! is more languid, the pieces unfolding in an unhurried way. The notes, brittle yet resonant, drift out into space, like pencil marks on a clean page, surrounded by white space. By Dvekorv, the mood is determinedly meditative. Rocks spread across a sandy beach. Clouds in the sky. The shards of a broken pot laying on the floor.

Erioplke orary ellerk, gruwlly? released as a free download by Deep White Sound, sees Sherman adding extended techniques to the pieces, as well as slide guitar, and they have a correspondingly more percussive and jagged feel.

Think rolls of barbed wire, or brambly thickets. Troperee is like a battle of wills, man vs horse perhaps, as the guitarist tries to conjure sounds out of his recalcitrant instrument with sheer force of will.

Loppuora is a glistening beast, a mosaic shining in the sun. On Phuierro and its companion piece Ulyeeneo meanwhile, Sherman lets rip with the full guitar-falling-down-the-stairs treatment, to thrilling effect.

Square, Sherman’s collaboration with Augustin Brousseloux, is a different beast entirely. Snaggle toothed, electric and noisy, this is a recording of furious abandon.

Rectangle 3 sees the duo resurrecting some long-dead jazz chords, but they’re smelly, diseased  remnants of their former glories.

Immediately preceding it, Rectangle 2 is a nagging staccato riff that paws the ground endlessly, like a guard dog desperate to escape its shackles and tear your throat out, while a second guitar crackles and pops over the top.

Rectangle 1, which kicked the album off, rocks the hardest of the lot, squealing, sizzling and yowling in full clanging and fuzzy effect.

In contrast, Triangle 1 is a structureless, grey drones, buzzing and humming like migraine after a monumental piss up.

Even the relatively tranquil Triangle 2 has a sweaty, claustrophobic quality, which induces a kind of restless nerviness in the listener. It’s all good, pissed-off fun.



Get Zreakequo!! here

Get Erioplke orary ellerk, gruwlly? here

Get Square here


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