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The Necks: Chemist

Nic Jones By

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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 be considered the polar opposite of the empty virtuosity symbolic of so many "straight" jazz releases in these overbearingly reactionary times.

That said, the keys/bass/drums (or guitar) trio has broken with established recorded practice here and opted to present an hour's worth of music made up of three pieces, as opposed to the one long piece they've filled discs with in the past. The singularity of their approach, however, makes such practical distinctions irrelevant at the same time as it provokes the thought that as a group, the Necks have reached an extraordinary level of empathy; after all, virtuosity might just lie in something other than the ultimately empty display of technique.

This is especially evident on "Buoyant," which quite literally starts from the tiniest sounds and builds through a design so unconventional that it sounds like a whole lot more than the product of mere wilfulness; the three band members are attuned to each other in a way that ought to be emblematic of so much creative music out there but isn't, and anyone of an inquiring mind can only be stimulated by their efforts.

Ultimately, the chasm between being genuinely creative and simply going over the same old ground is arguably as wide as it's ever been, and this group comes down firmly on the side of the former.

Now, these ears have got some catching up to do.

Track Listing: Fatal; Buoyant; Abillera.

Personnel: Chris Abrahams: keyboards; Lloyd Swanton: bass; Tony Buck: drums, percussion, guitar.

Title: Chemist | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ReR Megacorp

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