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This review is from: Hanging Gardens (Audio CD)
For the uninitiated, The Necks are an Australian trio of Chris Abrahams (keyboards), Tony Buck (drums) and Lloyd Swanton (bass) and this is their seventh album, but the first to be released in the UK. It was recorded in 1996 and released in Australia in 1999. The Necks specialise in hour-long improvised pieces, but unlike most improvised music there's a regular pulse, plenty of space and the harmonies are more 'in' than 'out'.
Normally The Necks' pieces build up with one instrument joining in after the other. This one springs into life with a piano chord, 16-beat pattern on cymbals and hi-hat and a wheezing Hammond Organ in the background. Over the first 7 minutes various themes (a low piano motif, an echoing bass note) are introduced which are gradually played more and more frequently until the snare drum kicks in and the Hammond comes to the fore. Around the 20-minute mark first chord reappears in a new theme. It all seems so logical that it's hard to believe that this is improvised.
Hanging Gardens ebbs and flows like an orchestral piece; halfway through they've stripped everything back to the bare minimum, yet within 10 minutes we're treated to a swirling organ solo and Abrahams' trade mark trilled single notes on the piano. The constant trance-like beat is reminiscent of Dance music, but all this is achieved without a click track or computer-generated loops.
This music belies description as it works on so many levels. Initially the repetition can put the listener on edge, but gradually you get sucked in, and the tiniest changes sound like seismic shifts. It's not a difficult listen but does repay patience; there's nothing out there that sounds quite like this and each listen reveals something new. Totally recommended!