Mind Maintenance | Mind Maintenance
Mind Maintenance are the duo of Joshua Abrams playing guimbri and Chad Taylor on mbira. This is where the music begins but Mind Maintenance can’t be described with a summing of parts and players. It’s not about world music, it’s not about jazz. It’s about mind maintenance.
The songs of Mind Maintenance exist in a zone somewhere between composition and improv. Based in melodies that unspool over time as they move between the two instruments, they benefit from the players’ intimately enmeshed sensibility and the intensity with which they listen to each other. Chad and Joshua have been playing together forever - or, if you need to think of it more tangibly, since around 1994. Sticks and Stones was their first band. They played together on the session for the O’Rourke-produced Alan Licht/Loren Mazzacane-Connors album ‘Hoffman Estates’ in 1998. They live in different cities but play together whenever they can - whether it’s with Sam Prekop, Natural Information Society or Joe McPhee. Or just a jam. After trying out the guimbri–mbira combo for a show at Chicago’s MCA, they made Mind Maintenance a thing.
Engineered by Cooper Crain, whose vibrational sensitivities have been displayed on his own Bitchin Bajas recordings (including their 2015 collab with Natural Information Society, ‘Automaginary’), ‘Mind Maintenance’ captures full spectrums of playing and listening, sound and music.
Mind Maintenance, using old technology (in the form of a three stringed lute and a thumb piano) make a new thing for today rooted also in the way of things as they’ve been for millennia. In other words, when these sounds bounce off your cerebral cortex, the feeling you get is that of your mind breathing freely in the presence of something it has known forever.
The pairing of guimbri and mbira is more than unusual but more important to the music of Mind Maintenance is the shared ground of inspiration that both instruments occupy. The guimbri is used by the Gnawa people as part of prayer and healing rituals, as well as for social and popular music. Traditional Shona mbira melodies transposed to guitar are essential to Thomas Mapfuno’s widely-loved Chimurenga music; Miles Davis sought to represent the mbira vibe in his own music when making ‘Kind of Blue’. Mind Maintenance pursue their inspirations on these instruments down similarly transformative paths.