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The Necks at the Bishopsgate Institute

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The Necks Bishopsgate Institute London March 21, 2014 The Necks live are a different beast to their studio incarnation. In the studio the mixing desk becomes almost a fourth member of the band with, using the recent Open album as an example, contributions being faded in and out or panned across the stereo image to enhance and fine tune the soundscape. Live, however, you get the full visceral experience unmitigated by clever production and, in a beautiful space such as the Bishopsgate Institute, the perfect way to lose yourself in the music. The ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

The Necks: Open

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Not many artists would respond favourably to a question on how they felt about audience members falling asleep in one of their performances. The Necks, however, are not like other bands--bass player Lloyd Swanton quipping in a recent interview that “I have no objection to audience members sleeping, as long as they don't snore and wake up the person next to them!." The question was put to the band during a discussion of the best state to listen to Necks' music and actually had a serious basis. While a lot of quiet, controlled, jazz is routinely described by ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Open

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Listening to a recording by the Australian trio The Necks is akin to over- hearing a conversation between two giant sequoia trees. While humans might not perceive the growth and movement of the trees, mom and pop Sequoiadendron giganteum might comment, “Little Billy sure has sprouted up these past 400 years, he's outgrown all his school clothes, again!" Open is the 17th album by pianist Chris Abrahams, drummer Tony Buck and bassist Lloyd Swanton. The band returns to their modus operandi, like their initial 1989 recording Sex (Private Music, 1995). Playing one long meditative piece (68 minutes), the ...

LIVE REVIEWS

The Necks: Manchester, England, September 15, 2012

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The NecksBand On The WallManchesterSeptember 15, 2012The Necks is one of those rare and ingenious bands that has consistently made the role of the critic wonderfully obsolete. Since the group's inception in the late '80s and across 20 albums, this Australian trio has deftly maneuvered out of any pigeonhole ascribed to them--whether it be the reductive term “Post-Rock" or the ludicrous early noughties marketing tag “nu-jazz," communicating The Necks' sound has always been a difficulty due to the mutability of the group's music. This is a fact well known and lovingly embraced by its fans ...

LIVE REVIEWS

The Necks: Philadelphia, PA, September 22, 2012

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The NecksPerforming to Food CourtLive Arts Festival + Philly FringeKimmel Center for the Performing ArtsPhiladelphia, PASeptember 22, 2012The prospect of Australian trio the Necks providing a live soundtrack for a theatrical production would seem to be either a perfect idea or an absolutely flummoxing mistake. The longstanding group is known for long, slowly-developing improvisations, owing a bit to trumpeter Miles Davis, a bit of something else to minimalist composer Steve Reich, but for the most part being something very much its own. Thegroup might have a dramatic peak in an hour ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Silverwater

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A recent conversation brought up the question why anyone would buy a CD by the Australian trio The Necks. The interlocutor wasn't questioning the quality of the band, merely wondering about listening to them any way other than live. The reason is the same why people read Tennessee Williams plays--appreciating genius outside of the visceral experience. Since their inception, The Necks--pianist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton and drummer Tony Buck--have hewn remarkably close to their original concept, a sort of minimalist swell that develops at the same pace as a stalactite and stalagmite might meet in some ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Chemist

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This is apparently the thirteenth release by the Necks, and this reviewer is ashamed to admit that it's the first one he's heard, especially when the music is singular enough to satisfy the average iconoclast status to which this reviewer would make no claim, incidentally.

Describing what the Necks do seems to serve no purpose when it comes to trying to convey the feel of their music. Their minimalism is of a singular order in the sense that it maximises use of the smallest fragments of musical material, and the way in which they expand upon such material might almost ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Mosquito/See Through

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The members of Australian trio The Necks may have individually mixed pedigrees, having functioned in a variety of contexts from pop to hardcore to more conventional jazz. But when pianist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton, and drummer Tony Buck get together as The Necks, it's a different beast entirely. Like them or not, they score high marks for originality. The music on Mosquito/See Through is certainly unlike anything else you're apt to hear, ranging from delicate ambience to darker stasis.

Of the two hour-long pieces that make up this two-disc set, “Mosquito" is clearly the more approachable. Revolving, for the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Mosquito/See Through

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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 explorations--each 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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: The Boys

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If you're looking for minimalism in jazz, just listen to the Australian trio The Necks. The music of this band formed by pianist Chris Abrahams, drummer Tony Buck and bassist Lloyd Swanton, is characterized by its simplicity in forms. By continuously repeating phrases constructed from a few notes, the trio creates a musical ambience whose tension varies when small changes made by any of the group members transform the basic melodic line.

The Boys , which is drawn from the soundtrack the group composed for the Australian movie of the same name, continues in The Necks' minimal/ambient tradition, although the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Drive By

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In many ancient cultures music is a tool for trance. Repeated figures, varied ever-so-slightly, can beckon you into a form of meditation where the outside world doesn't matter nearly as much as what lies within. Traditional drumming from Ghana, for example, centers itself around rituals relating to birth, spirits, and death. Westerners absorbed this idea in a very ass-backward way when modern classical composers like Steve Reich incorporated minimalism into a framework of repetition. The idea has been taken further by post-rock groups like Tortoise, who make use of studio tools to get it just right.

The Australian ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Hanging Gardens

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This Australian jazz-fusion trio creates quite a bit of music magic via a relatively simple framework. Marked by a repetitive passage that sways in and out of the overall proceedings for the better part of sixty-minutes, the musicians embroider a cavalcade of trance grooves amid drummer, Tony Buck’s peppery beats. Thus, jazzy riffs coalesce with Miles’ “In A Silent Way” style imagery as illusory patterns ride above the rhythm section’s pumping motifs. Keyboardist, Chris Abrahams’ steers the production with his often-oscillating Fender Rhodes work, and resonant EFX-based treatments.

On this release, Abrahams communicates a memorably melodic, lower register single note ...



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