Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society - Simultonality LP


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Label: Eremite

Our Review:

Simultonality is the fourth fully-realized album from Joshua Abram's Natural Information Society, and while it continues down the path tread by its predecessors, it's a truly remarkable record in and of itself. Simultonality is Abrams' strongest declaration of purpose yet, presenting his vision of ecstatic minimalism with striking clarity.

For more than 25 years, Abrams has played with everyone from tenor icon and AACM co-founder Fred Anderson to the Roots. Also, his hands are in seemingly every important Chicago post-rock project in between. He was in Sam Prekop's band, played on a milestone early Tortoise EP and was a member of Town And Country. Despite this breadth of experience, the focus of the Natural Information Society project has been nothing but consistent. In this platform, Abrams weaves his experience in experimental rock groups, study of postwar American composition, and training in jazz and North African trance-music traditions into an intricate array of continuously collapsing patterns of sound. You wouldn't be wrong to call this music meditative, but you'd be remiss to not also mention its relentless, momentous pulse. Early in his career, Steve Reich famously borrowed from traditional African musics. Simultonality strips from American minimalist music any sheen of secular, academic sterility and returns it to the source, albeit delivered by a furious motorik beat.

On most of these tracks Abrams plays a ceremonial instrument of the Gnawa of North Africa, the guimbri. The first Natural Information Society album to be recorded with a regular band, Simultonality also features guitarist Emmet Kelly, who Abrams has played with in the Cairo Gang and with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and harmonium player Lisa Alvarado, whose paintings are hung to accompany performances by the group. One of those paintings has been reproduced for the album's cover, beautifully silkscreened by Alan Sherry of SIWA. Pressed on heavyweight vinyl by RTI, in a limited edition of 825 copies.