If ever there were a more accurately titled jazz record, one would be hard-pressed to find it. Bassist Josh Abrams (formerly of Roots and currently of Town and Country) has enlisted the help of Chicago guitar boss Jeff Parker, Italian reed maestro Guillermo Gregorio, and European brass journeyman Axel Dörner in order to completely blur the lines between free improvisation, free jazz and "free composition." Here is a field of play, sketched out over ten selections ranging from four-and-one-half minutes to just over nine minutes in length that strip music of its barest essentials for performing in a group setting, and then sets about to perform these works as a group. Elements of silence, tonality, texture, dynamic, and pure spatial relationship serve to uninvent preconceived notions of all of the preceding terms. Certainly jazz, free jazz, free improv, and composition come into the body of this music, but these entrances are disembodied within the larger context of exploration and curiosity. And yet, the sounds here are far from academic. They are living and breathing encounters with what lies just beyond the solo or group interaction. Interplay enters into language, and that language into silence. Strange, mysterious, and stunningly beautiful, Cipher is a modern enigma.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek