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sound/music CD reviews

 Da Contents H2

May 1 2013
Jon Rose

April 3 2013
zephyr quartet
a rain from the shadows

July 17 2012
the wired lab
wired open day 2009

May 22 2012
ros bandt, johannes s sistermanns

March 20 2012
new weird australia editions: thomas williams vs scissor lock, spartak
jewelz & nippon

October 25 2011
avantwhatever label collection
gulbenkoglu gorfinkel; ben byrne; alex white; ivan lysiak

May 24 2011
disintegration: mutation

May 10 2011
blip (jim denley, mike majkowksi)

listen to the weather

March 22 2011
difference engine

November 22 2010
artefacts of australian experimental music volume II 1974-1983

September 20 2010
clocked out
the wide alley

September 7 2010
clocked out
foreign objects

August 23 2010
matt chaumont

July 26 2010
sky needle
time hammer

May 10 2010
mike majkowski
ink on paper

November 6 2009
new weird australia vols 1 & 2

October 26 2009
clare cooper & chris abrahams
germ studies

July 17 2009
erdem helvacioglu
wounded breath

rice corpse
mrs rice

April 28 2009
james rushford

joel stern
objects, masks, props

January 22 2009
loren chasse
the footpath

mark cauvin

December 12 2007
the splinter orchestra

October 24 2007
artefacts of australian experimental music 1930-1973

August 28 2007
akathistos fragments


various artists produced by le tuan hung; dindy vaughan
on the wings of a butterfly: cross-cultural music by australian composers; up the creek

May 1 2006
ai yamamoto

camilla hannan
more songs about factories

found: quantity of sheep

philip brophy

rod cooper

December 1 2005
anthony pateras
mutant theatre

December 1 2005
charlie charlie & will guthrie
la respiration des saintes & building blocks

dj olive

new belief system

jodi rose & guest artists
singing bridges: vibrations/variations

lawrence english

lawrence english
ghost towns

michael j schumacher
room pieces

robin fox
backscatter dvd


the necks
mosquito/see through

tim o'dwyer
multiple repeat

guns, cars & guitars

warp: various artists
warp vision: the videos 1989-2004

zane trow
for those who hear actual voices


Shock Records, 2004, FOM0011

It’s easy to see why The Necks have generated such a cult following over the past decade; their whole approach flies so defiantly in the face of all that characterises contemporary life. Their music poses questions in an era of pat answers, demands attention in a culture of distraction, and requires time in fast-paced world. The Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami once claimed he took it as the highest compliment when people fell asleep while watching his movies, a comment that came to mind while listening to The Necks’ latest release. Kiarostami’s films carve out a space in which our minds can wander, drifting through the disparate thoughts, memories and resonances evoked by his images. Similarly, The Necks carve music in time which is never the same twice over.

The new release comprises 2 disks, each an hour long. Mosquito begins with an uncertain, staccato dialogue between wooden blocks played by Tony Buck and Chris Abrahams’ piano. There are long stretches of silence, until the tinkering is joined by methodical, heavy notes periodically emanating from Lloyd Swanton’s double bass. A steady rhythmic purr starts up, sounding like an outboard motor travelling parallel to the band, until it branches off on its own path and fades into the distance.

Mosquito summons images of a slow journey up river in a humid tropical clime, with passing river traffic, wooden blocks evoking the night-time calm of a distant outpost of exotic Orientalist imaginings. At one point a mosquito buzzes in the listener’s ears. Seven minutes in, piano chords join the conversation and a structure begins to form, incrementally. In a Necks performance, the journey is the message. The trip has to be seen through to its end or not embarked upon at all—this is not a CD you can dip into. The sounds of the opening return at the end: we are back in port, our dream journey complete as the memories linger.

See Through is more typical of The Necks’ live work. It opens with a prolonged wash of cymbals, a persistent percussive rumble and a piano tracing melodic lines deep in the mix. See Through never leaves its starting point, hovering above the same spot as the trio work the sound, endlessly stretching the aural possibilities. Silences come and go, but always the rumble returns, a shimmering mirage of incandescent sounds on the horizon, continually threatening to burst over the listener or disappear completely.

Mosquito and See Through offer quite different experiences. I preferred See Through’s constantly shifting shimmer to Mosquito’s circular narrative, but each disk provides a unique musical exploration that demands concentration, rewarding the listener with a dream-like realm of infinite possibilities. The effect is only surpassed by the hypnotic energy The Necks generate on stage.

Dan Edwards

© Dan Edwards; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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