Exotic Sin take spiritual jazz and minimalism into the 21st century | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Exotic Sin take spiritual jazz and minimalism into the 21st century


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The instruments of some musical icons end up displayed in museum exhibits or auctioned off for charity at vast sums. Others get handed down to the younger generations to do with as they wish. In the case of Exotic Sin, the London-based duo of multi-instrumentalists Naima Karlsson and Kenichi Iwasa, that’s been a good thing. Karlsson is a grandchild of Don Cherry, who played pocket trumpet with Ornette Coleman as well as a variety of non-Western instruments on records that predicted the evolution of world music, and his wife Moki, who accompanied Cherry on tambura and executed the colorful and powerfully vibe-inducing artwork for their album covers and stage banners. In Exotic Sin, Karlsson plays acoustic and voltage-dependent keyboards while Iwasa wields synthesizers, percussion, and three of Don’s old horns—one trumpet and two “saxophones” made from reed mouthpieces attached to plastic plumbing components. On their debut LP, Customer’s Copy (Blank Forms), Karlsson’s bold piano flourishes bring to mind the playing of Alice Coltrane, and the duo’s lengthy, layered compositions and repetitive keyboards hint at Don’s work with minimalist composer Terry Riley. But this isn’t some revival outfit; the duo’s music also contains digitally distorted voices and spasmodic, electronic percussion, which make far more sense in a world well acquainted with glitchy failure than in one where electronics represent the hope of a progressive future.   v

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