Chris Abrahams


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If you know Chris Abrahams only from his work in the longstanding group the Necks, you may find Thrown puzzling. In fact, even fans who have heard his previous solo efforts may not be expecting something as experimental, abstract, and raw as this offering. Thrown consists of nine pieces featuring piano, fortepiano, positive organ, and DX 7 (a keyboard from the '80s). The positive organ is what gives the album its very peculiar colors. Dating back to the Middle Ages, this small, relatively portable organ has a distinctive calliope-like sound. Abrahams uses it to produce staccato bursts of pipey notes and quivering out-of-breath drones. The DX 7 mostly provides noisy electronic textures that would normally evoke Max/MSP patches. The piano occupies a large part of the first few pieces, which keeps the listener on relatively familiar ground, even though the instrument is extensively prepared in "Bellicose." As the CD progresses from track to track, the instrument disappears almost completely, abdicating the spotlight to the positive organ. Abrahams paints stark aural landscapes, forests full of twisted trees with branches like limbs, the wind blowing through their hollow trunks, producing ghostly chants. When the piano is gone, the music strongly evokes Toshiya Tsunoda's sound art pieces using concrete pipes and Aeolian harps. Then, when you least expect it, the piano comes back with unmistakably Necks-ian flourishes ("Car Park Land"). Thrown is a very odd proposition, definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but it has the distinctive merit of breaking the mold that most listeners have cast Abrahams in.

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