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The Necks - Drive By

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Artist: The Necks

Album: Drive By

Label: ReR Megacorp

Review date: Jan. 21, 2004

Listening to anything by the Necks is like gazing into an oriental rug depicting a linear yet still intricate pattern. You don’t so much listen to Drive By; you become immersed. Drive By is a single track lasting 60 minutes, but you’ll hardly notice the hour go by. The Necks, based out of Brisbane, Australia are Chris Abrahams on electric keyboard and piano, Tony Buck on Drums and Lloyd Swanton on bass. Each artist is a well respected performer in his own right, dabbling in everything from praised recordings to film scores. It’s tempting to call them a “jazz trio,” but the Necks share more in common with Can, Charlemagne Palestine (think Strumming Music), house and techno than any jazz musician per se. In fact, apart from musical touchstones, one would be hard pressed to find artists producing similar work.

The beauty of the Necks lies in their deceptive simplicity; an attentive listen reveals lots of complex arrangements at work. Drive By is certainly more kinetic and infectiously rhythmic when compared to their more atmospheric earlier releases like Aether and more soulful than the frenetic and darker themed Hanging Gardens. The CD opens up with electric keyboard followed by the rustling, arterial pulse from the acoustic bass and paradoxically rhythmic yet discordant percussion.

Over the course of the set, each player grabs the spotlight and takes it on a short tangent, too restrained to merit solo status, arranging and rearranging the precedence of their instruments. The most understated tangents come from the acoustic bass, shifting from steady to fluttering throbs while the keyboards and piano offer the most adventurous attempts. The rhythm section articulates the tempo and drive of the CD, providing infectious danceable beats. In addition to trance inducing keyboard patterns, Abrahams also employs shimmering, crisp piano notes that feel like buckets of cool water attacking sweat-drenched dancers. An interesting addition to Drive By is the use of field recordings – crickets chirping, the drone from helicopters and the din of children playing – interspersed throughout the recording. These layered sounds afford the Necks a new found density. Call it what you will – fractal music, instrumental techno, Reichian jazz? – all of it and none of it are apt description; the Necks operate in their own league.

By I Khider

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