AMN Reviews: Nick Macri & Mono No Aware – Amache (2022; Cuneiform Records)

Despite its billing, Amache is a solo performance by Chicago experimentalist Nick Macri. With a long history as a collaborator in the city’s creative music scene, Macri stepped out on his own in September of 2019 to play a set at the Experimental Sound Studio. The result consists of three extended tracks of freely-improvised instrumental soundscapes.

Playing electric bass, acoustic bass, percussion, and electronics, Macri manages to layer two or more sources in a fashion that sounds like a duet or trio. Case in point, How To Be In The Body… combines jagged amplified bass and textural percussion into a boiling haze. At various points, Macri intersperses lines played in an ever-so-slightly more conventional fashion. Toward the end of the track, he also adds gritty electronics with recorded vocalizations as he generates feedback and noise from his amp.

On …Without Jumping Out of Your Skin (for Tracy Pew), Macri focuses more on the basses. Again, the playing is comparatively melodic yet open-ended. Subtle processing gives certain passages a shimmering nature, with repetitive echoes and pulses touching on minimalism. As the track progresses, Macri switches to electric to provide a few minutes of disjointed chording accompanied by bells.

Wrapping things up is the title track, featuring bowed and plucked acoustic. Macri’s efforts would fit well in a Euro-improv as he plays his instrument up and down the fretboard at a fast-moving pace. The track culminates with free-form bowed scraping, reminding the listener of Amache‘s offbeat nature.

At only 34 minutes, Amache is confidently unpretentious. Macri says his piece and then stops. The album is a relentlessly outside exercise in experimentation, and yet quite charming in its raw honesty. Highly recommended.