February 2017, Best Experimental and Modern Classical Album: The Necks’ Unfold

Generally people tend to assume that music should be always pleasant to hear, relaxing, joyful. There are records, however, that sometimes hit you in a different way, for example putting yourself in front of your hidden insecurities and pulling out your anxieties. Unfold by the Australian experimental jazz trio The Necks belongs to this category. Their music doesn’t accept compromises. On every track the three musicians extract an hypnotic pattern of notes or an interrupted melody and, with lucid calm and alienating slowness, they explore all the details of it. It’s not a relaxing experience. But it’s a interesting journey led by three skilled and inspired artists.

For an hour or so at a time, restless drummer Tony Buck, patient bassist Lloyd Swanton, and soulful pianist and organist Chris Abrahams would slip into sound worlds of their own design and slowly morph, as if on an evolutionary timeline. (Pitchfork)


The Necks are jazz trio formed in 1987 in Sydney by Chris Abrahams (piano and Hammond organ), Tony Buck (drums, percussion and electric guitar), and Lloyd Swanton (bass guitar and double bass). In their long musical career they have released 15 studio albums; Unfold, their latest release, has been published two years after their previous work, named Vertigo. The Necks have established themselves among the masters of abstract and improvised music. Their typical approach to songwriting is somehow inspired by the works of Philip Glass: they usually take a very basic melody with a rhytmic figure, and then keep exlporing them for the entire album, gradually introducing changes and slight variations. No rush, no accelerations, the pieces unravel endlessly propelled by the incessant rhythmic background.

Exactly how The Necks conjure their particular magic – as deceptively simple as it seems – whilst always moving forward, is anyone’s guess, but Unfold proves yet again that rules and schools are to be broken and re-formed into patterns and frameworks unlike those we know (Editions Mego)

In conclusion: far from being an easy album with tunes to sing, Unfold may still offer a trascendental experience, at times hypnotic, which may be particularly suited to be heard in some particular moments of our busy and complicated days.

Guerino’s rating: 6 / 10.


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