The Necks – Vertigo

vertigo(ReR)

You know those really irritating teaser lines that you see on Facebook and such: “You’ll never guess what happens when…” or “You’ll never believe how…”? Well, it occurred to me that many such bits of clickbait could easily be attached to the trio of keyboard player Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton and percussionist Tony Buck.

They never cease to amaze, even after nearly three decades, 18 albums and heaven knows how many live performances. Yep, you’ll never believe how much variety a piano trio is capable of, And you’ll never guess where they might lead you next. And what what happens when three musicians leap into the void…

Vertigo is, as we have come to expect, one track of continuous three-way improvisation. There are no tunes as one might conventionally expect tunes to be; the rhythms are not conventional either; harmonies are equally different. And yet, it’s all still music. I mean, it has to be. It’s in many ways the purest example of music making you will ever hear (sorry, tipped over into clickbait speak again there).

The title inevitably calls Hitchcock to mind, and there is something particularly unsettling in this album, For a start it doesn’t begin as we have come to expect Necks’ recordings or concerts to begin, with a single contribution from one of the three and a very slow, gradual building into a three-way rising arc of complexity and intensity (actually they have been subverting that overall shape for years as well – their abiding mantra is one of never doing what they have done before, but bear with me for the sake of argument); no, it erupts seemingly in full flow with a wall of sound.

From there the shifts are mainly slow and subtle, but early on there are drum eruptions which again are likely to feel like a sudden loss of footing on the part of the listener. There is unsettling fear to be found at various times in this music but of course there is strange fascination too. There is always a strange fascination.

And I can assure you of one thing: you will never hear another band like… (Bugger! Clickbait temptation’s back.)

I’m afraid I (and so perhaps you too) have just missed four nights of The Necks live at Café Oto in London, but they are still on tour in Europe for a while and return to the UK on Thursday to play at Turner Sims in Southampton.

  • More details here.


Categories: CD review

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