on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2013 30 Okt

A very interesting response to „Open“

von: Manafonistas Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off

The first 10 minutes of “Open,” the 17th album by the Australian trio the Necks, trickle out slowly, as they do on albums by the Necks, leading toward the gradual arrangement of a pentatonic scale played on a piano by Chris Abrahams.

In comes Tony Buck’s drumming: deliberate tappings of a clenched high-hat, arriving intermittently but not regularly. (It’s like drops of pre-rain, when the sky hasn’t made up its mind.) Then more piano pentatonics, some malleted tom-toms, a snare-drum hit here and there, and the bassist Lloyd Swanton repeating a single note resonantly. Finally, at 15:32, splat: a snare and a sizzle cymbal struck at the same time.

The first time around, up until that splat, “Open” — which is one 68-minute piece — sounded only vapid to me. I can’t think of a record I was less eager to go back to a second time, and I can’t think of a record I changed my mind about more on the second, third and fourth time, except maybe the Necks’ last one.

They look like a jazz trio, which is how they started in the late ’80s, and they retain a trace of that music: stepping in and out of a groove. But they’ve moved toward their own kind of collectively intuitive, process-oriented minimalism. It’s a music that toys with and questions typical narrative development, at a speed slower than what’s comfortable for most listeners. It frustrates our pattern-recognizing abilities, our need for emotional engagement, our desire for payoff. The music does grow intense, but that’s not the point. It does proceed through changes that sound logical, but that’s not the point, either.

If there’s a particular element in here you don’t like, the music will move on from it, at its own speed; it’s not going to make a neat return to it. And if you feel that Mr. Buck, the drummer, is the record’s through-line and heroic actor — I do — you will eventually try to feel his sense of time, anticipating exactly when he will hit the cymbal during the record’s final seven-minute denouement. You won’t get it right. BEN RATLIFF

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