The Necks - Body

A Closer Listen

One of the things that makes The Necks so brilliant is their continual exploration of organicism in any and all its forms, not only in pure musical terms but also as ensemble. For the past few years that’s meant drawing certain associations that can be traced all the way back to Sex (1989), and which emphasize the grounded, material nature of an ambient that is born of expressionism and not impressionism. The careful threading of senses in revolt from Vertigo (2015) and the physical intervention of the listener in the experience of playing Unfold (2017) both refer to the actuality of human movements, processes, and feelings, as against ambient’s more abstract tendency towards ‘the mind’. Body forms part of this line, inasmuch as it opens up organicism as more than just the intricate weaving of a whole whose parts are subtly, delicately intertwined: its sections here are clear, divided, as individualized as the ensemble has ever presented itself.

Just like you could conceivably simplify the human body to four general parts (legs, torso, arms, head), Body, like Unfold before it, is also markedly sectioned in four, building up contrasts in the continuities between each movement. This classicality in Body’s form could remit listeners to the equally classical principle according to which all bodies are made from four elements – heat, moisture, earth, and air, a mixture of which determines the nature of all beings; their interactions, when in balance, lead to health and a good life, but when one overcomes another then extreme emotions and temperaments arise.

The first section, which is about 15 minutes long, grounds the piece in a meditative flow of a generally repetitive, particularly distinct piano motif, quietly paced bass, and the relentless, determined rhythm of cymbal percussion. The second section is shorter (10 minutes or so), swerving away from the drums and piano, leaving only strings to revel in harmony and extended notes, an ethereal plane in which a guitar repeats tones like a bell, growing from sheer resonance. Half-way through the album, The Necks pull off a move incredibly rare in their extended discography – they launch into a fully motorik rock-out with all instruments in play. Your head will be compelled to rock with the fiery, driven rhythm as the noise pours out from the mix and the layers of sound fracture beautifully and powerfully, laying the mind blank with the urge to let your body move. After the fire turns to mere embers, the last part of the album, about 15 minutes long, pulls back entirely into restrained expressions that drone and reverb their way into a subtle flow, distant and yet present, as if listening from inside an echo chamber, submerged in resonance.

Like the movements of a body, these pieces articulate very distinct forms into a whole that is not necessarily coherent (the fire ends far too suddenly, after all), every element an expression of drives that congeal into the materiality of a raised arm, a turning head, a leg about to cross unto the other: sometimes the subtlety of a gesture is an indication of something far more complex, but sometimes it is of no profound significance as well. The organicism of Body is of a different kind, one that allows for proportions to become inexact, one that allows the asymmetry of inner life to reflect upon both the low-key and obvious asymmetries of our bodies. Each part is distinct, and does not lose its uniqueness when conceived as part of something else. (David Murrieta Flores)

Tue Aug 28 02:01:54 CEST 2018

90

Drowned In Sound

The Necks are like water. On record and in concert the Australian trio are in constant motion. The seas they conjure tend to remain relatively steady (the band have been referred to as an “ambient jazz” group after all), but the intensity of the waves can fluctuate wildly. So, whilst The Necks may be one of the few bands around that can aurally convey a genuine sense of peace and calm, they can also do the exact opposite. In full flow, in fact, the band is capable of making their deceptively minimalistic sound punishingly visceral. The liquid flow of their music always remains, however. Chris Abrahams’ piano always remains an anchor, or rather a sight of land amongst the squall of Tony Buck’s percussion and Lloyd Swanton’s bass.

Body by The Necks

Body, the guitar-toting twentieth Necks record, is slightly different. It’s not the first time that the band has expanded their instrumental palate. Guitars have appeared before, electronics have been introduced at times, and Abrahams has dabbled with the organ on several occasions. Still, the blast of thrashing electric guitar that takes the one-track, 57-minute Body into its central section comes as an undeniable shock. This is not a flirtation but the sound of the Necks entering genuine rock territory… and it’s brilliant.

It also could be something of a in the arm for the trio. Whilst the band have never released anything that falls noticeably below their own high standards, recent Necks records have perhaps suffered from the simple fact of arriving twenty-plus years into the group’s career.

Last year’s Unfold was far more overlooked than it deserved, given that it contained some of the most subtly inventive music of the band’s career across its (by Necks standard) epic track list. Vertigo(2015) and Open (2013) failed to garner as much enthusiasm as the rest of the band’s acclaimed post-2000 releases. Excellent as all three records were, the slightness of their innovations has failed to lead to them being ranked in the top tier of the Necks discography.

Whether Body can break that trend is likely to depend on how listeners react to the aforementioned muscularity of its central section. The opening and closing portions of the album, which contain some of the most beautifully restrained piano-led work the trio have ever committed to tape, are unlikely to prove controversial. The abruptness of the transition to rock freneticism may, however, cause confusion amongst some long-term Necks followers. Certainly, for a band that has made its name predominantly off the back of gradually evolving compositions, the sudden nature of the jump into the storm here is rather unusual. Rarely have The Necks switched gears so rapidly and conclusively.

That sight of land nevertheless, remains at the heart of the trio’s approach. The tension generated by Buck (who is pulling double duty by providing the guitar here) and Swanton is still placed in focus by Abrahams. The guitar may be the headline news here, but it is the pianist who dictates Body’s progress through the tempest. The frantic hammering of the rock explosion here is balanced out by the almost sombre, reflective outro that Abrahams leads. It’s the sound of a legendary band considering itself and its practice, and recognising what makes them truly great. For all the excitement of the noisy gesticulations that separate this album from what has gone before, it’s this haunting closing section that cements Body’s place as one of the highlights of a long and storied career.

![105781](http://dis.resized.images.s3.amazonaws.com/540x310/105781.jpeg)

Wed Aug 22 13:53:59 CEST 2018

80

Pitchfork

The Necks’ 20th album is as laser-focused on repetition as ever. But for the first time, the trio indulges its rock’n’roll instincts, resulting in one of the most powerful albums in the band’s catalog.

Mon Aug 13 07:00:00 CEST 2018

80

Tiny Mix Tapes

The Necks
Body

[Northern Spy; 2018]

Rating: 4/5

Head

1. so, this thing just starts moving mid-jog with muted but persistent piano jabs and a steady cymbal rhythm, and I dig that
2. this is unmistakably a Necks album
3. I don’t know why, but tuplets always get me, especially when metered pulses repeatedly decrease and increase in tempo; I could dig this all day
4. normally, live drum beats distract me, but here I don’t mind that this sounds like rock music
5. as foreboding as these pointillistic piano rattles are, I think I could be attacked by a sidewinder halfway through this and I wouldn’t even mind
6. wait a minute, things are getting quieter… something is afoot

Neck

1. it’s astounding how evocative organ music can be
2. this Jaws-recalling glissando amidst all these arid timbres is seriously fucking with my inner visualization of this piece
3. this part where a skeletal band of guitar, hi-hat, and upright bass becomes clothed in drone sounds like if MMMD made an album about boxcars
4. my rattlesnake suspicion has been confirmed: egg shaker for like a bar and a half?
5. this organ fading in and out, weaving in between guitar and drum phrases, is tremendously effective at breaking up a plod that would otherwise risk stagnation
6. what I love about this band is that whatever they’re playing at any given moment is so interesting that you forget how tens….

Body

1. WHOAAAAAÀÁÂÄÆÃÅĀ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2. ok, so I guess I probably expected that this was headed in this direction; nobody suspects Mogwai Young Team, but even on your first listen, you know that you’re waiting for something
3. this Swans-y post-rock groove sounds like 50 other specific things I’ve heard, but I can’t figure out exactly where I have heard these phrases before
4. night has fallen on either Amity Island or on Agrabah, and it is cold
5. this breezy, subdued postlude thing is my favorite part so far, and I think it’s because there are no more rock drums
6. this last movement would still sound victorious, even if it hadn’t been preceded by almost an hour of measured cacophony; that Body ends so softly is itself a brilliant resolution, even though its obvious contrast with its first notes is more clever than I care.

10 Final Words

1. enthralling
2. sinuous
3. golden
4. warm
5. seductive
6. familiar
7. cool
8. human
9. transcendent
10. terrestrial

Body by The Necks

Thu Sep 13 06:09:40 CEST 2018

80

Tiny Mix Tapes

The Necks
Body

[Northern Spy; 2018]

Rating: 4/5

Head

1. so, this thing just starts moving mid-jog with muted but persistent piano jabs and a steady cymbal rhythm, and I dig that
2. this is unmistakably a Necks album
3. I don’t know why, but tuplets always get me, especially when metered pulses repeatedly decrease and increase in tempo; I could dig this all day
4. normally, live drum beats distract me, but here I don’t mind that this sounds like rock music
5. as foreboding as these pointillistic piano rattles are, I think I could be attacked by a sidewinder halfway through this and I wouldn’t even mind
6. wait a minute, things are getting quieter… something is afoot

Neck

1. it’s astounding how evocative organ music can be
2. this Jaws-recalling glissando amidst all these arid timbres is seriously fucking with my inner visualization of this piece
3. this part where a skeletal band of guitar, hi-hat, and upright bass becomes clothed in drone sounds like if MMMD made an album about boxcars
4. my rattlesnake suspicion has been confirmed: egg shaker for like a bar and a half?
5. this organ fading in and out, weaving in between guitar and drum phrases, is tremendously effective at breaking up a plod that would otherwise risk stagnation
6. what I love about this band is that whatever they’re playing at any given moment is so interesting that you forget how tens….

Body

1. WHOAAAAAÀÁÂÄÆÃÅĀ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2. ok, so I guess I probably expected that this was headed in this direction; nobody suspects Mogwai Young Team, but even on your first listen, you know that you’re waiting for something
3. this Swans-y post-rock groove sounds like 50 other specific things I’ve heard, but I can’t figure out exactly where I have heard these phrases before
4. night has fallen on either Amity Island or on Agrabah, and it is cold
5. this breezy, subdued postlude thing is my favorite part so far, and I think it’s because there are no more rock drums
6. this last movement would still sound victorious, even if it hadn’t been preceded by almost an hour of measured cacophony; that Body ends so softly is itself a brilliant resolution, even though its obvious contrast with its first notes is more clever than I care.

10 Final Words

1. enthralling
2. sinuous
3. golden
4. warm
5. seductive
6. familiar
7. cool
8. human
9. transcendent
10. terrestrial

Body by The Necks

Thu Sep 13 06:09:40 CEST 2018