No matter how many times I sit down with this latest Natural Information Society Record, it seems to unfold in new directions and offer up different conversations than I’d previously heard. Joshua Abrams has been lighting up the roster at Eremite for quite a few years now and Drag City prior, but this marks the first NIS live release in the bunch. The band hooks up with free sax player Evan Parker and the spark that’s lit between his Coltrane-indebted runs and the band’s groove-grounded style hits like painting in the abstract — a barrage of colors that connect and fold in upon one another — chaos and cultivation colliding head to head and vying for dominance on the same waveform.
Over the four movements here, recorded as one 75-minute set at London’s Cafe OTO, Parker and NIS spar and swing. They rumble through with particular due to be paid to the rhythm section — Mikel Patrick Avery ably keeping up with Abrams’ Guimbri to keep the whole set sliding on glass casters. Over their bedrock, Parker’s sax and Jason Stein’s bass clarinet clash constantly, wheeling like Capoeira practitioners in a form that feels both antagonistic and complimentary. The lines between their aid and angst constantly shift as the set unfolds to its impressive culmination. A steady buzz of harmonium from Lisa Alvarado remains the thread that pulls the pieces together, a subtle shade, but vital nonetheless. It seems that with every new offering, Abrams’ NIS further embeds itself as one of the most exploratory and exciting corners of the avant-free sphere going. This latest should sate both their fans and those looking to Parker’s own particular scorch should find a lot to sink into here.
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