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ARTIST
TITLE
Simultonality
FORMAT
CD

LABEL
CATALOG #
GB 048CD GB 048CD
GENRE
RELEASE DATE
9/22/2017

Repressed. CD release of the follow-up to Joshua Abrams's critically acclaimed 2015 album Magnetoception. Credited to Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society (NIS), this the first recording in the project's four-album history made by a regularly gigging manifestation rather than a special assembly of friends. Recorded in 2014 and 2015 in single takes by the full ensemble during and after tours of the U.S. and Canada, Simultonality once more affirms the project's unique approach to joining traditional musics, American minimalism, and jazz with the Gnawa ceremonial instrument the guimbri. Stasis, continuity, and repetition -- central qualities of Abrams's language -- defined Magnetoception, a double album of beautifully spacious and unhurried music that rated high on both Pitchfork's "Experimental Records Roundup" and The Wire's "Releases of the Year" at the end of 2015. These same qualities form the heart of Abrams's music on Simultonality. But while Abrams once said Magnetoception is about "winter & death," Simultonality, in Abrams's words, is an album of "pure motion." Without sounding frenetic it is the most explosive NIS music on record, and without sounding over-determined it is Abrams's most structured and 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 and rhythmic, clearly stated or implied. While so teeming and 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 a mutualistic relationship toward fulfilling Abrams's long-stated intention for the project: to help listeners achieve a meditative center and to consciously use music as a gateway to living. Abrams credits the great bassist and 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 and Frank Rosaly are Abrams's 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 Liebezeit's drum break from Can's "Vitamin C." At Abrams's behest the two drummers divided the beat into separate parts. According to Hamid Drake the rhythm was popularized, if not originated, by John "Jabo" Starks and Clyde Stubblefield of The J.B.'s. Nearly ten years into an existence that began in 2008, Abrams and the NIS wear their influences with creativity and ease. Longstanding NIS members Ben Boye and Emmett Kelly were previously together with Abrams, or not, in Bonnie Prince Billy's band, and Abrams and Boye have at different times played in Kelly's band The Cairo Gang (while Boye and Kelly are in Ty Segall's Freedom Band as of 2017). Harmonium player Lisa Alvarado also contributes the large-format pattern paintings used by NIS at concerts and for its album covers.