Chris Abrahams is of course the pianist in essential trio The Necks. His piano playing surfaces here, as does some organ work, but in addition this solo record is teeming with electronic slices and other instruments, assembled with a musique concréte approach. Fluid To The Influence is released by Lawrence English’s Room40 label.
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- Fluid To The Influence by Chris Abrahams
9/10 Robin Staff review, 22 March 2016
Chris Abrahams is one third of the Necks, an Australian improv act known for asking the question “shall we make an album?”, getting one minute into it and knowing, with innate prescience, exactly what to do. ‘Vertigo’ has brought the band many a new fan, and their recent live shows have proven just how essential familiarity and friendship is to music -- it’s the longevity of their collaboration that’s made records like ‘Open’ and ‘Sex’ so gorgeous, so subtle in their craft. Abrahams, a solo artist in his own right, is master of more than just the band’s piano, and knows a thing or two about crafting weird contact noise, mellow musique concrete and lovely alien melodies.
I’ll just say it now because I love it so: ‘Fluid To The Influence’ stands as Abrahams' banner work. Described by Room40 crew as a “thunderous” work, I actually find it very light, joyously skipping beyond the bitty noise interpolations of “1 Litter Cold Laptop” into passageways of melody and cosy abstractions. “Scale Upon the Land” brings together gently rollicking piano motifs with the kind of crackling and tinkering you might love if you’ve ever listened to the insect ambient of Federico Durand or Danny Clay. It’s both captivating and meditative; you walk upon the land as it buzzes around you. “Receiver” makes contact with instruments and uses them as percussion, treating drumbeats as mere elastic, bringing in swooping noises that sound like a tennis racket slicing through empty space. At the heart lies a disjointed but comforting half-melody, always circled back on but never realised. It’s mesmerising -- it feels tangible though you could never identify it
I still don’t know what Abrahams is really doing here, and that’s the way I like it: is he destroying perfect melodic ideas with the chaotic sound of life, or vice versa, or what, may I ask, please, thanks? “Trumpets of Bindweed” suggests a regal fanfare with the oscillating instrumental central to it, but it’s given a spectral sound through a shimmering percussive additive. “The Stones Continued Intermittently” manages to create a spot of overcast weather from distant field recordings of walking and maneuvering -- here, his piano is as minimal and unscathed as Nils Frahm.
I’m merely describing, now, because there’s so much, much too much, and never much of a muchness: this is just a gorgeous record. I want it to buzz around me forever.
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