You know how the Necks do. Wake up. Get the coffee on. Simultaneously improvise instrumental gold. Another day. The wonderful and surprisingly dense Unfold was their last record and it came out on LP; now in typical Necks fashion they're releasing a CD only called Body, relying on the usual and ever-so trusty combination of piano, bass and drums -- though percussionist Tony Buck is said to really go out on a limb with some guitar excursions on this one.
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I’m just going to spitball here, if that’s okay, because we all know what a Necks album sounds like, or if we don’t who cares, improv is for nerds. Here’s my idea: the Necks perform ‘Body’ on Soccer AM. You know, they’re chatting, stuff happens, a few cheap and mid-level laughs are had -- all before the Necks launch into a fifty-six minute session of elegant avant-garde. Helen Chamberlain loves it and immediately becomes a lifetime member of Cafe Oto.
Sorry, onto it we go. ‘Body’, in truth, is a bit of a deviation for the Necks. At first it sounds like same old same old -- Chris Abrahams, Tony Buck and Lloyd Swanton start performing in medias res, their omniscient combination of glistening piano, scuttling percussion and accenting double bass doing the rounds it does. It sounds quite normal, give or take some surprise guitar in the background, which swirls around in a kind of ambient fugue state. It’s a quiet but significant textural innovation; rarely are the Necks more than a communal thought for three instruments, but this sound gives us a hint of what’s to come: everything but the piano drops out and a climax of high-stakes rock music begins.
It’s absolutely mad: the song spends ten minutes responding to Tony Buck’s use of guitar, as if the band were using the Necks template within the framework of the last two decades of psychedelic music. As if surprised at themselves, maybe even reproachful for what has come bursting out of them, they return, flushing out the fever with a tranquil percussive suite that chimes and chirps. The melodies, rhythms and reasons dissipate, as if the Necks are having to get to know one another again, the trio occasionally combining on gorgeous little motifs in which Abrahams’ piano trundles down into a percussive snap. Usually, with the Necks, you’re just in a pair safe hands -- with ‘Body’ you’re bracing yourselves against them.
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