Hard on the heels of Pat Metheny's one-track CD suite The Way Up, here's some more writing on the wall for short attention span/instant gratification culture, as the Time Lords from Oz touch down with an even more uncompromising release. This double CD features two supra- minimalist, breathtakingly audacious, hour-long sound and texture nano explorationseach of them hugely compelling and therapeutic listening.
"Mosquito" and "See Through" each last a fraction under 62 minutes and are powerfully reminiscent (you'll have to trust me on this) of sitting on a Welsh mountainside, with a headful of Owsley's finest, watching the sunrise. It's that hyper real, hyper slo mo, hyper clear and pure an experience. Or to put it another way, it's like some giant MRI scanner has sliced a nanosecond of time and space and placed it under a molecular microscope for The Necks to investigate and fine tune.
"Mosquito" opens with what sound like bamboo windchimes being pulled delicately over the head of a hand drum, while a Tibetan prayer bell pulses softly in the background and the double bass plays the simplest one-note ostinato. These elements continue, with subtle variations, throughout the track, becoming the foundation for a repeated sequence of quietly ecstatic piano chords. And that's it. For over an hour. It's awesome, if awesome can be applied to something so miniature and so finely calibrated.
"See Through" is different again, rich and baroque where "Mosquito" is austere and rigorous, andin its use of silenceeven more extreme. A handful of gorgeous piano chords, tamboura-like bass drones and gently splashing cymbals evokeindeed, get right to the core ofAlice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders's early astral-jazz workouts. The track is particularly reminiscent of the (for its time) long, drawn-out intro to Sanders' "Upper Egypt And Lower Egypt," but instead of lasting eleven minutes or so, continues with practically zero linear or narrative development for the entire hour. The Necks intensify the magic by contrasting the richness of the vamp with occasional periods of up to four minutes' silence, or near-silence broken only by Aeolian harplike high frequency resonances from piano strings, cymbals, and other objects in the studio.
Totally immersive and astonishing music which will take you out of yourself, and bring you back one or two hours later refreshed and re-energised.
Personnel: Chris Abrahams, piano; Lloyd Swanton, double bass; Tony Buck, drums.