Monday, July 31, 2017

Joshua Abrams and Natural Information Society - Simultonality (Eremite Records, 2017)

Joshua Abrams is a multi-instrumentalist and composer who makes very interesting and original music that draws from jazz, minimalism, krautrock and much more to develop a blend of music that is inclusive and compelling. On this album, he is playing guimbri, bass, harp, bells and he is accompanied by a band called Natural Information Society, consisting of Lisa Alvarado on harmonium and percussion, Michael Avery on drums and percussion, Ben Boye on chromatic electric autoharp, piano and Wurlitzer, Emmett Kelly on electric guitar, Frank Rosaly on drums, percussion and resonator bells and Ari Brown guests on tenor saxophone on the final track. The music is complex but exciting, often using a motorik type beat to pull the listeners into the soundworld the band is creating. "Maroon Dune" opens the album with a thick and hypnotic gaze as the musical instruments weave in and out of the music, subtly changing the tone and color of the music as they progress. Abrams develops themes and motifs, making the most out of the guimbri with which is a three string African lute, and the remainder of the musicians in the band pick up on this and elaborate upon what he is playing. The pace is pretty fast, but it develops organically, waxing and waning according to the real time development of the piece, creating a delicate lattice of instrumentation, and a mood was that is free from coercion. The musicians are listening very closely to one another, focusing their improvisation into a unified whole, giving the performance a communal sensibility, absorbing all of the individuals and subsuming them into the music. Brown is the guest star on "2821 1/2," (the location on S. Indiana Ave. in Chicago of Fred Anderson’s legendary Velvet Lounge) and he is welcomed by a plethora of percussive instruments like shakers and bells that create a meditative feeling. Keyboards, exotic stringed instruments and electric guitar build the music layer upon layer, moving carefully toward Abrams' goal of pure motion. Brown's authoritative tenor saxophone joins in a little under halfway through, slowly and patiently probing the music and patiently weaving a solo feature, one of the few on the album. Brown calls forth with a very emotional tone, continually searching and reaching, and he was perfectly chosen for this part of the album, as he moves from a wistful ballad tone to overdriven free blowing, he stakes his claim and makes the music his own. This music on this album was a joyful experience to hear, one where traditional "jazz" instrumentation takes a backseat for the most part, and allows the musicians freedom to inhabit new aural contexts. This results are quite accessible, and many music fans would enjoy it, given the opportunity to hear the music. Simultonality - amazon.com

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