Although Chris Cook, who hides behind the Same Actor
ensign, has been releasing music in a variety of formats
and under countless monikers for some time, Sharp
Edges is his official commercial debut, courtesy
of French imprint Bip-Hop.
Hailing from the seaside town of Brighton, Chris Cook
is an active member of the Spirit Of Gravity collective
of artists and has been operating under a variety of
guises, including Remote, Hot Roddy and Same Actor,
and has released an impressive number of CDRs since
he first appeared in 2001. Sharp Edges collects
thirteen compositions which all evolves around a similar
concept, albeit developed in various ways throughout.
Primarily basing his work around elements of acoustic
guitar, dulcimer and sitar which are sampled and processed
before being regurgitated in a variety of forms, Cook
makes good use of his natural sense for melodies as
he combines a wide range of influences, from middle-Eastern
to Celtic and folk to prog-rock.
Cook demonstrates here a constantly playful and mischievous
approach as he processes his sound sources and collates
elements to build his compositions, yet the result holds
overall pretty well. If the electronic side of his work
is not always apparent, it remains a constant throughout.
Whether he chops up melodies, samples or voices (Nothing
Yet, Red Yellow Porpoise, Squash),
or takes the time to properly layout the various components
of a track (Dulcimer Scramble Suit, Celeriac,
Morph), Cook never fails to colour his compositions
with effects and tricks, sometimes to the detriment
of their substance.
The album concludes with the twenty-seven minute epic
Deforestation. Here, Cook appears suddenly
more focused and serious as he builds up layers of atmospheric
tones. As the piece mutates, going through a phase of
almost microscopic found sounds before erupting in swathes
of sitar, Cook shows off a more incisive side, but he
eventually fails to take this composition to a different
level and ends up once again chasing his tail.
Working from a somewhat original template, Chris Cook
combines on this album a series of rather rich sounds
but never seems interested in developing a true narrative
through this record. This results in Sharp Edges
sometimes appearing a tad too contrived and lacking
of stamina, but Cook is also capable of very lucid and
inspired moments, and this album provides enough of
them to remain a rather promising offer.