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Reminder - Continuum

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Artist: Reminder

Album: Continuum

Label: Eastern Developments

Review date: Oct. 29, 2006

If you drew one of those connection diagrams that links people, scenes and musical collaborations, Joshua Abrams, a.k.a. Reminder, would sit at the center of a spider web of lines, his sinuous basslines a common thread in diverse hip hop (The Roots), post-rock (various Tortoise side projects, Town & Country), electronic and free jazz projects.

His fourth solo album draws together a similar breadth of influences, styles and people. Tyondai Braxton (spelled Tyundai here, for some reason) guests on one track, Black Africa Ensemble flautist Nichole Mitchell plays on another, yet another track is a remake of a Jeff Parker cut. Bass clarinet player Matt Bauder, who has worked with Tyondai's famous dad, smolders his way through the reedy reveries of "Tranqui," while Brazilian rapper Akin raises consciousness in the thumping, chugging "Pinheiros Message."

Even all by himself, Abrams is a shape-shifter. His opener "On Rooftops," is a perfectly chilled lounge-scape, all disembodied female voices and pulsing bass. Later, the brief "Telepathic Part I" puts celebratory yelps and howls atop a break-beat groove. "Ten Paces" is an experiment in abrasive bowed sounds, but "As Its Falling" is lucid fusion of jazz flute and mantra-ish repetitive beats. The only constants are clarity, relaxed skill and a certain body-moving rhythmatic, even on the most downtempo cuts.

Maybe that's why Continuum initially feels like background music lulling, pleasant, nothing to disturb your train of thought. Repeated listens draw out a density of sounds, layers of percussion, synthesized strings and keyboards that are subtly placed and artfully juxtaposed. Genre-mixing producers like Nobody, percussion-fascinated tape loopers like Dosh are decent reference points, but Reminder exists in its own, blissed out, Chicago-style jazz-hip hop continuum.

By Jennifer Kelly

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