Monday, August 24, 2009

The Necks: Australian Jazz?

The Necks (group)
Drive By

The Necks are a recent discovery for me. A close friend in Sydney asked me to check them out and I was hooked within minutes. Since then I have gobbled up as much as I can. The Necks are a trio utilizing improvisation to make you think more than shock.

The music is a slow build to sometimes cacophonous conclusion but not always. If this sounds like its almost unclassifiable well it is. The ambient movement of their very lengthy pieces (most albums are one long track) does eventually give way to a rhythmic pattern or groove. The comparisons to E.S.T. (from Sweden) are unavoidable but not justified.

Their music also evokes comparisons to legendary rock act Can or composer Philip Glass due to its repetitive nature. The Necks at times don't sound like a trio at all. They sometimes sound like a quartet or an orchestra. They don't use samples or overdubs. No--just a piano, bass and drum. At times you could imagine this being the soundtrack to a Neal Stephenson novel.

The Necks have over 10 albums in just over two decades in addition to numerous solo projects. All of the albums are pretty hard to find but you can download a number of them online. I would suggest their 2003 album Drive By (ReR). Drive By best encompasses The Neck ethos and I believe is the most accessible to new ears. Once you've enjoyed this one a few times I would try digging further.

WOW! I'm still shocked that I'm just now finding out about this band. But I'm so glad I did.

Check this performance and interview to get a good idea what The Necks are all about.

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