On Unfold Australian improvising trio the Necks force temporal parameters on their wide-open modus operandi | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

On Unfold Australian improvising trio the Necks force temporal parameters on their wide-open modus operandi 

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click to enlarge Necks

Necks

Camille Walsh

This spellbinding Australian trio have adhered to a singular method for three decades now, consistently pushing one another to build meditatively powerful performances from the simplest of kernels: a short phrase or pattern generated in real time by keyboardist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton, or percussionist Tony Buck, then elaborated on for about 60 absorbing minutes. But despite the Necks’ roots in jazz tradition and deep improvisational chops, their live results are genre agnostic, shying away from any particular sound, and on recordings the trio have relaxed their modus operandi, deploying overdubs and postproduction. For this month’s double LP Unfold (Ideologic Organ), the trio applied yet another set of parameters, requiring each of the four pieces, which range from 15 to 22 minutes in length, to fit on a single side of vinyl. The truncated time window forced the Necks to further alter their usual MO—“Overhear,” for example, which features Abrahams on organ, hovers more than it moves forward, with Buck creating a kind of spectral rattle and Swanton playing a soothing, repetitive arco pattern that throbs rather than glides or scrapes. Likewise, the twinkling piano and percussion on “Blue Mountain” endlessly expand and contract, each clench and release offering shifting detail and texture. Still, I’m always happiest when I can sit back and drink in a full hour of the trio’s slow build as they perform live.   v

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