WBGO Radar

Now vs. Now: Earth Analog

Cover art for Now versus Now's "Earth Analog

Now vs. Now is a kind of groove trust for the new millennium. The trio stitches together digital and analog textures with rhythms that shift like sand under your feet. Jazz is one of the doors they invite you to open. Will this alien music make you want to dance? Absolutely, but be warned: once you step into the group's intoxicating, alternate universe, you may find it hard to leave.

In the four years since the band’s debut CD, each member – Jason Lindner on keys, Mark Guiliana on drums and Panagiotis Andreou on bass – has emerged an influential shaper of New York jazz in his own right. But the focus here is solely on the group. All three players are dazzling virtuosos, but they prefer to coil excitement in the listener’s ear by holding back more than they show off.

Now vs. Now has distilled its sound into a concentrated form for this new release: what started out as a quintet, with trumpeter Avishai Cohen and rapper Baba Israel, has been stripped down to this carefully balanced trio, where each member is equally vulnerable and exposed. Lindner sketched out tracks on his computer, then invited the other two musicians to make their own interpretations, and record the songs live.

The “Earth Analog” of the album’s title imagines the sounds of a planet much like Earth, had it taken a different path. Some of the sounds on Lindner palette may sound familiar to any New Yorker – the knocking of steam in radiator pipes, or the spinning of drums in a laundromat.

“Ancient Alien” carefully layers timbres and rhythms over a three-chord groove before exploding into a distinctly human celebration, which recedes into a tightly knit web of what might be alien sounds. Andreou’s signature singing of South Indian rhythms appears, but in a voice electronically manipulated almost beyond recognition.

“Activity” and “Traveler” showcase Lindner’s Wurlitzer electric piano. “Intelligentlemen,” which was inspired by an Aphex Twin riff, and the Brazil-tinged “Future Favela” capture the startling level of communication between these musicians, who navigate Guiliana’s hairpin turns of rhythm with almost uncanny ease.

Want to continue your Alien adventure with Lindner, Guiliana and Andreou? Now vs. Now will be featured on WBGO’s The Checkout on December 3 at 6:30 p.m., and celebrates the release of the new album at Rockwood Music Hall on December 4 at 7 p.m.

      - Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer

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