Open
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Open

The Necks

Seventeenth album by the iconic instrumental trio of Chris Abrahams (piano), Tony Buck (drums) and Lloyd Swanton (bass), celebrating 25 years as a band.

Following on from their two track LP release Mindset (2011), latest offering Open sees legendary artists-in-resonance The Necks return to the territory they are best known for, the single piece - running for over an hour. True to its title, Open possesses a stillness, drawing the listener into a spacious soundworld.

Review

Occupying a unique space in contemporary music, The Necks have quietly birthed a genuinely original sound, carved from strata of seemingly disparate materials. Emerging from a nebulous background in the late 1980s, drummer Tony Buck, bassist Lloyd Swanton and pianist Chris Abrahams are often (perhaps erroneously) labelled a jazz band, but they draw as much from ambient, minimalist and dub idioms as they do from free improvisation, or any other style for that matter. None of their 17 albums to date can be easily pigeon-holed, but what does define their approach to sound is an organic, gestural style, which allows their long compositions to evolve so subtly and effortlessly, the listener is wholly enveloped and immersed.

Comprising just one hour-long track, Open finds The Necks at their most meditative yet searching. Commencing with a slow fade-in, shimmering percussion figures nudge us gently towards a cascading piano/bass motif, until crisp cymbals and protean, lurching toms create a complex rhythmic architecture, only for it to fall away as the piano returns and rhythm is supplanted by tinkling bells, organ drones and groaning sheets of metallic frequencies.

Always evolving, never settling, Open is like a complex puzzle; a vexing, exhilarating journey which richly rewards deep attention.


Tam Patton works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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