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Noel Akchote: Sonny II

“Wrong is right, less is more, and here is how Sonny Sharrock changed my ears and gestures.” This is how Noel Akchote describes his solo outing, Sonny II, and it’s about as apt an introduction as one could get. The obtuse French-born guitarist doesn’t attempt to replicate Sharrock’s fearsome sound. This personal, almost diaristic recording instead considers Sharrock the composer refracted through the guitarist’s imagination.

On Sonny II, Akchote seldom turns to the electric guitar, choosing to perform primarily on steel-string acoustic, either solo or in duet with himself via overdubs. The guitarist begins with nine of Sharrock’s melodies, a few originals and some other things thrown in (including, without explanation, Donovan’s “There Is a Mountain”), and boils them down into short, rough-hewn melodic recitations. Sharrock’s music in Akchote’s hands becomes country laments, ancient folk and dust-covered blues. Tunes like Sharrock’s “Gary’s Step,” with its old-timey delivery and warped and warbly long tones, sound almost like lost John Fahey tracks. Pairing rusty, bent notes and a one-chord strum, Akchote’s own “Sonny” is every bit as direct, if even a bit more raw. It’s a gorgeous, satisfying performance.

Originally Published