The Necks craft one of their most dynamic, driving, and mesmerizing compositions to date with Body.
Masters of experimentation and defiers of expectation, Australian trio The Necks have turned jazz on its head time and time again with their monolithic, meticulous, yet improvised pieces. Active for over 30 years and with 20 albums under their belt, The Necks have proven that their creative well has yet to run dry, and probably never will. Their newest recording, Body, attests to this statement and features some of their most awe-inspiring work thus far.
Much like most of The Necks‘ albums, Body consists of one behemoth sized song (56:41, to be exact) that relies heavily on improvisation, features layers of instrumentation, and consists of several distinct movements that flow seamlessly into one another. The track’s first section immediately establishes a hypnotic groove that digs its hooks into the listener and refuses to let go. The drumming is steady and quietly complex, throwing in subtle rhythmic changes to transform the entire feel of the section without notice. The piano dances about and unleashes a myriad of somber notes that cycle around the head. The bass pulsates methodically throughout this section as well, while ethereal ambiance swells and fades at unexpected moments. This entire first section is like being trapped within a dream one would not want to wake from.
Around the 15-minute mark, the song’s second and shortest section fades into view. The dreamlike first passage fades into a quiet section of repetitive piano chords and syncopated bass as various percussive instruments shake and rattle. Aquatic keyboard sounds shimmer at unsuspecting moments as the section slowly dies down. Somewhere around the 22-minute mark the track begins to swell back up and fluttering acoustic guitar strumming builds anticipation for the song’s “heaviest” and most driving section.
Near the end of the 24-minute mark, the song explodes into a lengthy section of Swans-like intensity and mind-numbing repetition. The track features hammering drumming that is full of infectious groove and unexpected heaviness. The piano churns out riff after riff that coil around each other while abrasive, whaling guitar sounds make a glorious racket behind it all. Everything is presented as an enormous wall of sound that towers of the listener and threatens to crush them. This section gradually dies down and the final section, which begins around 39 minutes or so, brings the song to a melancholic close. Here gloomy piano melodies crawl through thick layers of ambiance, various percussive instruments, and glitching electronic effects as it reaches its triumphantly sad conclusion.
Just like the rest of The Necks‘ material, Body‘s runtime can seem a bit daunting to some. But those willing to spend an hour with this record will find some of the most textural, ambitious and forward-thinking music around, jazz or otherwise.
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Label: Northern Spy Records
For Fans Of: Swans, Bohren & der Club of Gore, and Dale Cooper Quartet & the Dictaphones