Noisy improv icons The Necks return with a double vinyl LP on Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ label. Unfold sees the band continuing their experiments with absurdist jazz and genre-mangling instrumental forms, with each of the four sides containing a single track of incredible, avant-garde improvisation.
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Dozing off: it is tough. The worst place to doze off is on a train, where you are most likely to fuck it and end up in somewhere nobody wants to go like Harrogate (I love Harrogate - Clint) . The only good place to doze off, beds not included, is at a Necks gig, which I once did, while they were playing their instruments, loudly. I think I dozed because they did: the Necks, an improvisation trio, have been made symbiotic by their decades of playing together, knowing each other’s movements inside out and being able to either heed or disregard them with zero thought. At least that’s how it feels: watching them, you can imagine any one of their number might forget they’re playing and drift off into their rhythm.
Having given us the wonderful and rather freaky ‘Vertigo’ recently, they return with double LP ‘Unfold’ on Stephen O)))Malley’s Ideologic Organ imprint. It’s fitting in that one of their number, the legendary Chris Abrahams, seems to actually be playing or at least imitating an organ, creating a reverent space for their free jazz to exist in. On “Rise” it’s met with the shaken percussive drone of Tony Buck and a back-and-forth bass swing by Lloyd Swanton. Here, the three do what they do best: they spread out. Rhythms flow wonderfully as Abraham adds little sprinkles of motif to his organ playing, occasionally switching it up and slowly building to a repetitive but constantly shifting solo.
Their free manoeuvres on this record are more compartmentalised than set-piece ‘Vertigo’, which offers them a chance to work in some different modes: I’m taken by the sparse-sounding and delightfully eerie “Timepiece”, in which the band fill the room with percussive detritus and rattling alarms, Buck kicking the shit out of a drum at the core. It’s tracks like this, where bass plucks and floating melodies -- where actual pretty bits -- make such rare, daring appearances, that remind me of what I love the most about the Necks: their control of noise. "Timepiece" should be cacophonous but at its centre maintains an uncanny lullaby quality. How do you make dissonance that soft and precise? I don't know, but this record continues to prove the Necks are the angels of avant-garde.
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