Chris Abrahams Fluid To The Influence

[Room40; 2016]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: minimalist jazz, experimental, electro-acoustic
Others: Tyondai Braxton, Jim O’Rourke, Tim Hecker, Triosk

Abstraction, more than ever, can be a miracle tonic. When you can’t tell if an artist is boring you or you’re just overemphasizing innovation as a virtue, when you know full well that you’ve probably at one point or another enjoyed every musical trope you’ve ever railed against. Open ears and formation of taste are an annoyingly discordant coupling. But given patience, distance, and a truly cleared mind, that bickering can be a wondrous texture. Likewise, the tactile meanderings of Chris Abrahams are friends of a firm zoning out. We can be overwhelmed in the crowded room, or we can let its chaos unfurl on the senses like so much drifting creek debris.

The placid, ethereal jazz of Abrahams’s piano runs do salve the day, but not before a torrid opener (the phonetical perfection of its title is worth noting) that might leave Necks fans guessing as to where the piano’s at. Sure, there’s what could easily be electronically vibrated strings on the first half, but the damage on the second is curious. Perhaps, going off the title, it’s simply a water-damaged rendition of what came before. While the skree may be slightly incongruous with what we’ve come to expect from the artist and his main gig, the more atypical aspect of Fluid to the Influence is its succintness. Despite the usual massive drift of his pacing, the tracks run roughly five minutes apiece. Yet they don’t feel like excerpts of something larger. They come and go like lucid product demos of uncertain purpose. Yet you are innately freed from any consumer decision making. The tracks are merely sound options laid out for your perusal.

Going through this record, I picture a chatty audience at a quiet show, their invasive quality gradually processed and arranged till rendered pleasantly inane (not unlike what happens with this album). The entries tap into calm and disquieted regions of the mind as they rustle by, somehow never allowing one space to crowd out the other. Incidental objects and tentative melody knock at one’s endlessly fickle focus with slow, rubbery underwater keenings. Call it welcome annoyance. Call it starter-Necks, for those intimidated by the notion of an hour-long track. Just call it in, because it will replenish your tradition-exhausted thirst for sound artifice with perfectly ephemeral signification.

Links: Chris Abrahams - Room40

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