Since Time is Gravity, the latest hypnotic album from Joshua Abrams' Natural Information Society, is also credited to Ari Brown, the 80-year-old tenor saxophonist and Chicago legend whose work is central to the album. He joins Abrams and the rest of NIS' players: Lisa Alvarado (harmonium), Mikel Patrick Avery (drums), Jason Stein (bass clarinet), Hamid Drake (tabla, tar), Josh Berman and Ben Lamar Gay (cornets), Nick Mazzarella and Mai Sugimoto (alto saxophones & flute), and Kara Bershad (harp). You can listen to the album below.
We asked Joshua to tell us more about Since Time Is Gravity and he returned with a list of "ideas & inspirations" that includes Ari Brown, Japanese drum machines and other instruments and gear, and more. Read that below.
ideas & inspirations orbiting Natural Information Society's Since Time Is Gravity
1 Ari Brown
The tenor saxophone tradition in Chicago is a deep legacy that goes back generations. This lineage includes Gene Ammons, John Gilmore, Johnny Griffin, Von Freeman, Fred Anderson, and many many more. Filled with the breath of the right practitioner the tenor saxophone reveals itself as highly sophisticated technology for making humans feel better. Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy. Now in his 80s, Ari Brown upholds that legacy. His career has crossed a huge spectrum of music, playing with Elvin Jones Jazz Machine for decades, recording with groups including the Emotions or his own ensembles such as The Awakening or Ultimate Frontier. His sound and intelligence brings a depth to Natural Information Society's compositions whether interpreting a melody, flowing freely over the fabric of the ensemble, or creating otherworldly vocalizations through his horn. Ari's impact on this recording is major, and it is an honor to have him take part in the group.
2 Ace Tone Rhythm Ace
A Japanese drum machine from the 70s, I find it's tones & preset rhythms help facilitate writing new music. The Ace appears on more than half the record blending with Mikel Patrick Avery's drums & Hamid Drake's percussion. I came across this instrument while recording years ago with Count Bass D at the Shape Shoppe with Griffin Rodriguez engineering and Jeff Parker & Tomeka Reid in the mix.
How can music approach the shifting density of birds at twilight?
Is one of the epicenters of Chicago's creative music community & the home base for NIS over the last decade. You can hear inspiring progressive music there every week. Run by composer, drummer, & impresario Mike Reed, he continues the tradition of Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge, a musician owned venue managing to simultaneously foster experimentation and maintain living traditions. NIS has played there many times including this past NYE, the people dancing down the aisles.
5 Stain Ballads
Martin Arnold makes utterly bewitching psych chamber music. Described as a formless dance music the title cut feels like time is melting. Performed by the sublime Apartment House for the mighty Another Timbre label this album was a steady favorite over the months leading up to recording this record. One of the best composers writing today.
6 The Traditional Object
The Traditional Object is a series of free hanging paintings created by artist, NIS harmoniumist & my partner Lisa Alvarado. Since 2010 she has provided works from this series as stage settings for the band's concerts and imagery for the covers of the group's LP. The series offers an expansive approach to painting, history & utility. The cover of Since Time Is Gravity is filled with her piece Vibratory Cartography: Nepantla which was in last year's Whitney Biennial. You can see her new work at Bridget Donahue Gallery later this year.