Thursday, May 18, 2023

Natural Information Society - Since Time Is Gravity (Eremite Records, 2023)

The Natural Information Society is a band that seems to me to be the logical extension of the music that Don Cherry was creating in the 1970s. They humbly explore the sounds of different cultures while simultaneously maintaining their avant-jazz roots by creating several lengthy improvisations of varying hue and texture. This version of the band is an eleven-piece unit led by Joshua Abrams on guimbri and bass, and their music was recorded live in two locations during the spring and summer of 2021. The improvisations also embrace forms of minimalism based on repeated stratified rhythms and layers of instruments. The guimbri, which Abrams plays throughout the album, is a three-stringed lute made of wood covered in camel skin. It is perfect for creating the sort of hypnotic, slowly evolving music that is performed on this album. The band also folds in other influences, from free jazz to drone-based outsider music; everything is available, creating a sound of unique depth and immediacy. This unique combination of instruments, improvising in a long-form manner, is quite something to behold. The guimbri, along with the more traditional jazz instruments, create the sensibility of a multiethnic collaboration. This music fits solidly in that tradition of Ornette Coleman free jazz: nobody’s soloing, everybody’s soloing, and the collective and communal nature of Cherry’s solo work. But really, this album transcends any one individual and takes the creative energy of all of the musicians to develop a clear and distinctive kind of music that is thoroughly compelling and memorable. Since Time Is Gravity -

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