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Restocked!! On Magnetoception, Joshua Abrams is back exploring new contexts for the guimbri, the three-stringed north African bass lute at the heart of his Eremite recordings Natural Information (2010) and Represencing (2012). The artist's first large-scale work on vinyl, Magnetoception began as a commission by Eremite for Abrams to make a double LP based in extended performances by an ensemble of Abrams, guitarists Emmett Kelly and Jeff Parker, and drummer Hamid Drake. The group recorded the nucleus of Magnetoception live to two-track, circled around vintage Neumanns and a woodstove in a Berwyn, Illinois attic in February 2013. Over the next year at his Chicago studio, Parlor One, Abrams added solo pieces for harp and clarinet, along with Lisa Alvarado's harmonium, Ben Boye's autoharp, and percussion embellishments by Drake. Abrams's compositions are a fascinating nexus of ideas from non-western traditional musics, minimalism, and jazz designed to catalyze his musicians toward a single group-mind organism of sound. On his 2012 album Represencing Abrams presented his music in capsule-length pieces realized by duo and trio groupings drawn from a pool of a dozen musicians. Magnetoception presents one ensemble methodically unfolding his compositions over longer durations. The performances intricately layer rhythm, melody, and drone into sonic textiles of extraordinary expressive breadth, by turns dense or spacious, repetitive or indeterminate, clattering or placid. In addition to his masterful contributions on trap kit, tabla, conga, and frame drums, Hamid Drake acts as a direct link to the visionary music of Don Cherry, one of Abrams's essential artistic models. Magnetoception is the fullest measure yet of Joshua Abrams's sound world. It sounds like no other music being made today. Presented in a heavyweight Stoughton "laserdisc" gatefold sleeve; mastered by Helge Sten at Sten Audio Virus Lab, Oslo, Norway; vinyl cut at Sterling by Steve Fallone and manufactured by RTI. Edition of 875 vinyl copies.
"The former Town & Country bassist worked in numerous configurations this year, from film soundtracks for Steve James to a zoned-out supergroup with fellow Chicagoans Bitchin’ Bajas, but none were as heavy as the rolling grooves of this solo album. Underpinned by his bass and guimbri, Magnetoception was a version of cosmic jazz with deep foundations. David Keenan said: “It feels startlingly new, in terms of how the music is extrapolated, how the players relate, even as it feels like an ur-music, primal, body-centred, essential.”" TheWire Best Albums of 2015