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Articles | Featured | Future

RADIO

Ice, Ice, Baby

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Mike's apparently random picks for this episode, whose release dates range from the mid-fifties to this very year, turn out to have at least one aspect in common: the artists involved illustrate different aspects of “cool." After detours exploring Michel Petrucciani's personal life and Mike's beef with British jazz critics, we wind things up by discussing a classic release from folkster Gillian Welch in our pop matters segment. Playlist Discussion of The Necks's album ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Body

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Their official biography calls The Necks “one of the great cult bands of Australia," which says more about their fan base than the music they play. But it's still not a bad place to start; certainly, the mesmerizing improvised, slow-moving sound they create together is not likely to attract a mass audience. Like most of their recordings and live concerts, Body is a single, nearly hour-long improvisation--but one with four distinct sections. The performance begins with Chris Abrahams' ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Body

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Australia's greatest cult band, The Necks, has twenty albums to its creative and collective credit, amongst them Aether (Fish of Milk, 2001), Open (Fish of Milk, 2013) and Hanging Garden (Fish of Milk, 1999). Pianist/keyboardist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton and drummer, percussionist and guitarist Tony Buck create an ever-expanding rhythmic organism that constantly feeds off of itself with Body. The episodic, hypnotic, trance-like, 56 minute-plus title track never lags, its vortex of many-layered dynamisms bursting or blooming ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Bray Jazz Festival 2017

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Bray Jazz Festival Various venues Bray, Ireland May 28-30, 2017 There are just so many cultural events going on in Ireland over the May Bank Holiday weekend that it can be a bit of a head-spin deciding what to opt for. Roots music gatherings, literature festivals, classical recitals, a chamber music festival, traditional Irish folk festivals, lighthouse visits, theatre festivals and gigs galore, all vie for the punters' hard-earned coin. Happily, The Irish Times ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Vertigo

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Permit me a moment on a soapbox. Improvisation is merely a process, just as composition is a process. It is simply a way to organize sound. There are no imperatives, no agendas. Just spontaneity and interaction. Contrary to what's been drilled into your head over the years, improvisation doesn't necessitate “harsh" or “abrasive" sounds. In the early days of freely improvised jazz, harsh and abrasive sounds were common currency as the development of the style was steeped in the energy ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Vertigo

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The Necks don't swing. Since they are sometimes described as an “experimental jazz trio," it seems best to just put that on the table at the outset. I hesitate to call their music “free improvisation," as well, because of the abrasive, dissonant qualities so often found in that music--which doesn't describe The Necks at all. What this Australian group does is collectively create soundscapes that change and grow, but very slowly and gently. It's no accident that ambient pioneer Brian ...

LIVE REVIEWS

The Necks at Cafe Oto

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The Necks Cafe Oto London October 8, 2014 It is always a good sign when the imposing windows of Cafe Oto are misted up. If one could see through the condensation, if one could, with just one finger, remove the minuscule droplets amassed on the vertical plains, one would almost invariably spot fine music in the making. A woman, glass of red wine in hand, explains to her neighbour that, yes, this ...

CATCHING UP WITH

Lloyd Swanton: The Necks Trust Each Other to Not Push the Music Too Fast

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The Australian jazz--improv--jam trio The Necks has been active for quarter century. Consisting of drummer Tony Buck, bassist Lloyd Swanton and keyboardist Chris Abrahams, The Necks' members are all seasoned jazzers who approach the trio's music rather differently. Drawing inspiration from electronica, systems music and rock, the Necks have reshaped the role of the jazz keyboard thus improvising with textures and space rather than just notes and chords. Characteristically, their performances are lengthy and their records often consist of one ...

LIVE REVIEWS

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 ...

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 ...