Bandleader Goh Kurosawa describes Sharp Three’s style as "Global Fusion," with influences spanning jazz, rock, Western classical music and Balkan rhythms. His main inspiration, however, comes from reflections of his Asian homeland. In this self-titled album that features nine original tracks, Kurosawa seeks to blend Oriental and Western sounds using both modern and traditional instruments to create a new and unique sound that will appeal to a wide variety of audience. Joined by his bassist brother Kai Kurosawa and Los Angeles freelance percussionist Nick Terry, Kurosawa succeeds in creating that progressive, introspective sound in this album.
Each track leans to a different genre of the groups many influences, making each very distinct. The opening track "Michizure (Sacrifice)" begins with a sequence of jazzy rhythms over haunting harmonics. Terry accompanies with an irregular drumbeat. Intensity builds over the rhythmic section to climax and return to an airy, abstract feel.
Beginning with an Indian-sounding phrase, "Mu (Nothingness)" has a definite aggressive, angry undertone to it that is reminiscent of some progressive metal bands. The track also makes use of more sound effects than others on the album, for example using distortion to make the guitars sound as if sirens are blaring. Indian-style chanting is also employed alongside a tabla drum played by Terry.
"Burn" goes back to the group’s contemporary rock influences, such as Tool. Fast guitar rifts, a heavy backbeat and modern harmonics all add to the feel. While the repeating theme is fast, angry and distorted, the verses are calmer and show the versatile solo techniques within the group, especially Kai.
"Shanghai Beauty" is a beautiful, haunting guitar ballad as a solo by Goh--very passionately played and very moving, but it might have been better with some accompaniment by the bass to thicken it a bit more.
"Shiao" features Terry on the marimba while Goh and Kai create an ambient background. Kai then plays a bossa nova-style rhythm behind the soloists. In striking contrast to most of the tracks, this one maintains its melodic, easy-going style, and shows the group’s jazz roots are well founded.
The best thing about this album, however, is that it can be listened to repeatedly and you’ll still likely hear something new or identify an unknown voice you couldn’t place before. This is definitely a group worth listening to, and if you don’t like one track, skip to the next and you might find something more to your taste. Check out their website for news and updates and their myspace page http://www.myspace.com/sharpthree for music and videos. You can even purchase their music directly from the website. There are also some videos of the trio at www.youtube.com