Natural Information Society | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Natural Information Society 18+ Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., May 22, 8:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $10
On Magneto­ception (Eremite), the new double album by the Natural Information Society, Joshua Abrams improves upon the hypnotizing single-chord music he’s been finessing over much of the past decade, forging a sound that’s less dependent on the traditions of north and west Africa but still retains their ritualistic power. Past recordings reflect his ensemble’s shifting, ever-changing personnel, but the new record was developed with a fixed lineup, and most of the pieces reveal a heightened sense of direction. Driven by the twangy thrum of Abrams’s guim­bri and Hamid Drake’s morphing frame drum and tabla patterns, opener “By Way of Odessa” rises and falls as the guitar playing of Jeff Parker and Emmett Kelly coalesces and separates (Ben Boye’s chromatic electric Autoharp adds a complementary glow). "Translucent" is less meditative and more demonstrative, with slaloming guitar lines bathing the tintinnabulation of bells, while the dampened guitar lines on “Magnetoception” summon a kind of Krautrock ferocity. The mesmerizing qualities are undiminished—in fact, the sharper focus works to thicken the hypnosis, as improvised passages flow in and out of imperturbable grooves. This performance comes at the end of a U.S. tour, so I expect tonight’s terrific lineup—Abrams, Kelly, Boye, harmonium player Lisa Alvarado, and drummers Frank Rosaly and Mikel Avery—to reach deep inside the material and find loads of fresh possibilities. —Peter Margasak



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