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Listening Party

The Necks: Mindset

Sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy the puzzle

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The Necks


ReR Megacorp

The Necks are a band that you could puzzle over for hours or, just as easily, sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy. There’s a lot of music that fits into that category, depending on a listener’s threshold for puzzlement, and a disproportionate amount of that might qualify as jazz. But the sheer ease with which one can fall into a Necks song, whether it’s an hour-long song/album like Sex or Silverwater, the rare three-minute Necks track, or one of the two 20-odd-minute numbers off the Australian jazz-for-lack-of-a-better-term—the Necks are to jazz as Ricardo Villalobos is to techno music—trio’s new record can make for a hell of a narcotic.

The first half of Mindset is a song called “Rum Jungle,” and part of its pleasure is in the song’s mess or, alternatively, its super-finely choreographed music cascade. Drums seem to plunder ahead freely, rhythmic but loose. And in this odd way, those drums seem to double back on themselves, mixing in with the desperate-sounding thum-thum-thum-thum of an upright bass and heavy, reverberating deep piano plonks, also doubling and tripling back on themselves. Maybe it’s not so much a cascade as an avalanche seen from afar, quickening and quickening and quickening. You’re breathless, and the record is only six minutes deep. And then some bit of atmospheric something (saxophone?) seeps out of the mess (yet not a mess) and all of these sounds racing downward—most songs traverse sonic space, this one falls—come together in ambience, but not the sort of ambience you would probably ever think of in terms of “ambient music.” The natural ambience of a certain space and time.

Oh, there’s another song. “Daylights” starts out as a sort of Necks flipside, a extremely precise (or precise-sounding) progression of spare percussion—percussion sounds that feel natural enough, but strange and alien—bass, and piano, building into a torrent. But it’s not a torrent like noise or uncontained energy, but something else, something more—and something of which few bands other than the Necks are capable.

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