Necks, Joshua Abrams Group | Empty Bottle | Jazz | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Tue., Jan. 19, 10 p.m. 2010
Price: $15
Early in their history together keyboardist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton, and percussionist Tony Buck—aka venerable Australian trio the Necks—carved out a niche so specific that it's hard to believe they haven't yet exhausted its possibilities. Their basic approach is to begin with a brief improvised motif, which they then loop for 45 minutes or so, deconstructing and reconfiguring it via the accumulation of innumerable small permutations; in the studio they add intrigue to their recordings with overdubs and creative mixing. As they proved in their Chicago debut last February, they can transform the tiniest nucleus of raw material into consistently nuanced and captivating music. On this fall's Silverwater (ReR), their first studio album in three years, they make one of the most abrupt stylistic shifts of their career, which Buck explains in part by pointing out that it's the first Necks release tracked to hard disk instead of tape. The core of the music is still improvised, but the single 67-minute piece on Silverwater is assembled from several separate sections rather than cut in a single long take—and rather than elaborating on just one phrase as usual, they pick a new motif for each section, using editing and overdubs (including electric guitar from Buck) to blend them together. The extra instrumental layers give the music a greater range of textures, densities, and dynamics, but the real source of the Necks' brilliance remains the dazzling resourcefulness that's allowed them to extract so much from so little for so long. Vox Arcana opens the early show; the Joshua Abrams Group opens the late show. —Peter Margasak

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