Thor & Friends
The Subversive Nature of Kindness (Living Music Duplication)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Oct. 27, 2017
Nonconforming percussionist Thor Harris and his idiophone sidekicks don't so much unleash The Subversive Nature of Kindness as leave the back door open and let it escape. Less frenetic and more melodic than last year's Thor & Friends, its successor puts as much emphasis on violin and wind-driven instruments as on the bongs and clinks of marimbas and xylophones. Soothing flute tones and haunting strings alleviate the tension in the tornado of vibes on "Dead Man's Hand," while the gentle "Resist" slides on the round foops of a homemade clarinet. Vocals pop up wordlessly, Harris' erstwhile Swans employer adding pitch-shifted nonsense syllables to "Grassfire" that make the burbling tune sound like eavesdropping on an alien coffee date. Decreasing the weirdness of the trio's previous work while increasing accessibility may strike some as a compromise, but it's an acceptable one giving Thor & Friends' unique music easier appeal without staining its soul.