1 Track, LP (2009, Fish Of Milk)
Related: The Necks.
Four years on from their ARIA Award-winning 13th album Chemist, the nation’s most beloved exploratory jazz trio return with the austere Silverwater. Named for a bleak, industrial Sydney suburb best known for its correctional facility, the record consists of a single hour-plus track that finds Chris Abrahams, Lloyd Swanton and Tony Buck in a very dark place indeed. As is fairly standard for the group, they start things out softly, with glimmering analogue keyboards that evoke the sci-fi ambience of Klaus Schulze’s solo works.
From there, they proceed to subtly amp up the volume and intensity of the piece, led by Buck’s fluid percussion. About a quarter of the way in, his bandmates step back, allowing him to set up the track’s next section with a succession of circular fills, followed by Swanton's slowly evolving double bass line. This provides Abrahams with the impetus for Silverwater’s most deliberately melodic movement, as he echoes Swanton’s bass with admirable (yet not atypical) self-control. This is allowed to run its natural course for another 15 or so minutes, before being drawn (gently, of course) towards a more traditionally-structured jazz motif. Buck’s increased confidence and ability as a guitarist (as showcased on his 2008 solo album Project Transmit) shines through here, as he augments Abrahams’ understated playing with a few carefully-chosen and gently-bent notes.
Silverwater then glides back towards the near-empty space where it began, once again echoing early-’70s post-krautrock ambience. Buck’s muted electric guitar brings some structure to the drift, leading into the album’s final coda of piano, bass and gently-tapped cymbals.
There’s an overall mood of passiveness to Silverwater that stands in direct contrast to the more aggressive Chemist. This is The Necks at their most reflective, utilising their key tools of minimalism and repetition to create a gently trance-inducing piece of music. Though occasional bursts of intensity serve to stave off monotony, Silverwater remains a largely subdued affair. That it’s so utterly engaging, and so amenable to repeat listens is testament to the undeniable skill of the musicians involved.
by Adam D Mills