Based in Brighton, England, Chris Cook performs and composes his music under a number of different names, as well as collaborating with various local musicians. His first release proper as Same Actor, following a limited CD-R release a few years back, features sitar, dulcimer and acoustic guitar processed, edited and spliced together.
For the first 12 of this album's 13 tracks, Cook keeps his compositions concise, flitting between ambient abstraction and edgier, glitch-infected electronica, allowing for melodic forays on dulcimer and sitar, fleshed out with synth drones and bass pulses. Cook uses the sitar in a non-exotic fashion, downplaying its broad ethnic and '60s psych associations, and instead concentrating on its actual sound and how far that can be stretched and squeezed to fit different formats. So, for example, "Red Yellow Porpoise" has electronic polyrhythms set up in a face-off against the sitar's acoustic kinesis, each driving the other on within a largely dub-flavored groove.
Throughout Sharp Edges the music retains an organically shifting flavor, even as it sometimes collapses in on itself in volleys of glitches and jump-cut edits. And while it hardly adheres to any particular genre, it provides its own kind of continuous meta-folk commentary through its appropriation and recontextualization of acoustic music.
Having journeyed through various contrasting scenarios, exploring both purely textural and gently drifting sounds, Cook rounds this collection off with "Deforestation," a lengthy excursion that leads off with a syncopated acoustic meander before drifting into improvised sitar reverie, synth drones and pulsating sheets of sound. It's a brave stab at pushing things further, and just about holds together, though, at 27 minutes, it creates an imbalance in the album as a whole, obscuring the preceding tracks with its mixture of extended improv and sprawling soundscape.