JOSHUA ABRAMS & NATURAL INFORMATION SOCIETY
LP/CD/DL Glitterbeat/tak:til GBCD048
“Abrams makes music that falls between genres. There are hints of jazz, rock, raga, and many cultural musics, but it all feels singular.“ — Pitchfork
Stasis, continuity & repetition, central qualities of Abrams language, defined Magnetoception, a double album of beautifully spacious & unhurried music that rated high on both The Wire & Pitchfork’s lists of the best records of 2015. These same qualities form the heart of Abrams music on Simultonality. But where Abrams once said Magnetoception is about “winter & death,” Simultonality —in Abrams words— is an album of “pure motion.” Without sounding frenetic it is the most explosive NIS music on record, & without sounding over-determined it is Abrams’s most structured & thru-composed music yet. Much of it is also fast (“the last record was slow”), a mass of densely patterned elements swiftly orbiting constantly reconfiguring centers that are variously harmonic & rhythmic, clearly stated or implied. While so teeming & tightly packed as to sometimes seem impossible to parse, the music is at no time any more disorderly than a colony of bees pollinating a vast garden. Its many moving parts function in mutualistic relationship toward fulfilling Abrams’s long stated intention for the project: to help listener’s achieve a meditative center & to consciously use music as a gateway to living. Abrams credits the great bassist & composer William Parker as an inspiration for this intention.
The musicians on Simultonality date back to the nascency of NIS. Along with Hamid Drake, Mikel Avery & Frank Rosaly are Abrams first-call drummers for the project. Abrams prefers two or more drummers in NIS whenever possible. On Simultonality, Avery is in the left channel, Rosaly the right. The metallic shaker sound sometimes heard in the center of the stereo image is the rattle attached to Abrams’s guimbri. Astute heads may recognize the rhythm in “Sideways Fall” as Jaki Leibezeit’s drum break in Can’s “Vitamin C.” For “Sideways Fall”, the two drummers divided the beat into separate parts at Abrams behest. According to Hamid Drake the rhythm was popularized, if not originated, by John “Jabo” Starks & Clyde Stubblefield of the J.B.’s. Nearly ten years into its existence, Abrams & the NIS wear their influences with creativity & ease.
Long standing NIS members Ben Boye & Emmett Kelly were previously together with Abrams, or not, in Bonnie Prince Billy’s band, & Abrams & Boye have at different times played in Kelly’s band The Cairo Gang (Boye & Kelly are presently in Ty Segall’s Freedom Band). Harmonium player Lisa Alvarado also contributes the large format pattern paintings used by NIS at concerts & for its album covers.