Natural Information Society is an improvisational, spiritual ensemble assembled by avant-garde jazz bassist/composer Joshua Abrams, a veteran of Chicago’s experimental music scene. The group’s hypnotic sound fuses elements of minimalist classical, Krautrock, drone, free jazz, and numerous other genres, and their intimate performances are intense and exciting. Guided by Abrams’ playing of the guimbri (a three-stringed bass lute originating in North Africa), the Society’s performances feature a revolving lineup, typically including Frank Rosaly and Mikel Avery on drums and Lisa Alvarado on harmonium and gong, with Emmett Kelly often contributing guitar and Ben Boye playing autoharp. Abrams first used the name Natural Information as the title of his 2010 LP on Eremite Records, which included Kelly and Rosaly among its personnel, along with drummer Noritaka Tanaka and vibraphone player Jason Adasiewicz. The acclaimed release was followed in 2012 by Abrams’ Represencing LP, which featured a different cast, including flutist Nicole Mitchell, guitarist Jeff Parker, and drummer Chad Taylor contributing to the album. Veteran avant jazz drummer/percussionist Hamid Drake began performing with the Society in 2015, joining them for performances as well as contributing to Abrams’ 2015 double-LP Magnetoception, which also included Kelly, Parker, Alvarado, and Boye as part of its lineup. All three of these LPs were credited to Joshua Abrams as a solo artist, with the group billed as Natural Information Society for live performances; the first recording properly credited to Natural Information Society was Automaginary, a collaboration with Chicago-based psych-drone group Bitchin Bajas, released by Drag City in 2015. The Society’s Simultonality was released by Eremite Records in 2017. That same year between touring dates, Abrams released the solo Excavations 1 entitled on Feeding Tube Records. The following year, following year Abrams, drummer John Herndon, and guitarist Jeff Parker accompanied visiting Norwegian saxophonist Kjetil Moster on the fully improvised Ran Do issued by Clean Feed.
In July of 2019, Natural Information Society played London’s Cafe OTO. Evan Parker joined them on soprano saxophone for the performance. Abrams and Parker met during the 1990s, and bonded over John Coltrane’s music. Though the group had played with Parker once a few years before, their perfomance in ’19, consisted of a single, 75-minute improvisation. It relied heavily on the interplay between Parker’s horn and Jason Stein’s bass clarinet playing, evoking the spirit of Coltrane with Eric Dolphy. The uninterrupted 75-minute concert was captured by engineer James Dunn and producer Michael Ehlers. It was issued by Eremite in April 2021 as Descension (Out of Our Constrictions). ~ Paul Simpson