Keyboardist Jason Lindner first gained notice leading a big band at the New York nightclub Smalls. He has a solid résumé backing singers, playing Latin jazz, and leading and being an integral part of various small, adventurous, postbop ensembles. Chick Corea once described him as “a musical universe.”
But as he nestles into his mid-forties, Lindner has increasingly purveyed his widespread tastes through electronic instrumentation. Most notably, his membership in Donny McCaslin’s band landed him on David Bowie’s Blackstar album—producer Tony Visconti called him “a godsend,” adding, “We gave him some pretty far-out chords and he brought a jazz sensibility to re-voice them.”
For nearly a decade, the trio Now vs. Now has been the paramount ensemble through which Lindner has engaged his personal muse through the various permutations of electronic music. The group’s third album, The Buffering Cocoon, explores those rabbit holes more than ever. For those who don’t know darkwave from dubstep, or Aphex Twin from Flying Lotus, it can be an acquired taste.
Like the previous two records, the ten songs and three “Buffering” interludes on The Buffering Cocoon comprise a parable related to science fiction, social justice, and the natural order. But for electronic music neophytes looking for an organizing principle, the more granular individual song titles are a better guide. For example, “Cloud Fishing” features delicately pooled notes from an analog synthesizer, splash effects, and an overall ambience that can both wafts and floats. “Motion Potion” bumps up from a jabbing, staccato intro into a proto-’80s dance song via blocky, cheesy keyboard chords and riffs reminiscent of that era.
Other tracks are just pleasant fun on their own terms. “Glimmer” layers a prevailing drum riff (from newcomer Justin Tyson, who has the tall task of replacing Lindner’s McCaslin/Blackstar and former Now vs. Now cohort Mark Guiliana) with doodles from bassist Panagiotis Andreous, and flaccid timbre keyboard effects from Lindner. “The Scarecrow” has a relatively sturdy song structure festooned with handclaps and helium vocals from Lindner’s partner in the group Oscillations, Sasha Masakowski. “Silkwood Society” stands out for its textural range—soft keys, bulbous bass, chiming bell samples. Feel free to hum along.