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Record Reviews

The Necks

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

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Your Comments

CaptainFez  said about 5 years ago:

Nice one, Adam.

The Schulze reference is one that leapt to mind when I heard it, too.

I really like this disc, though I'd say it was perhaps more ominous than passive - more like Silent Night, maybe?

Ron  said about 5 years ago:

So Buck overdubs guitar? I gotta get this.

Though I've been to Silverwater (or through it, more accurately) and find it hard to imagine that it could inspire anything.

spruik  said about 5 years ago:

beautiful album. so many isolatable intricacies to rediscover.

dub3000  said about 5 years ago:

have been on a big 'necks' kick this week - aether on repeat!

very interested in this

paulb  said about 5 years ago:

In my opinion this is the best thing they've done since Drive By. Yes, part of you wants Tony Buck to bring some drums in (rather than just the cymbal) on the four note bass motif when reprised at the end to finish the piece off in total orgasmic style - but of course he doesn't and that's the whole point of the Necks - they're enough people doing the obvious elsewhere. His guitar is superb!

I don't think it's austere at all (if you want to hear austere listen to Mosquito); it's the most richly layered piece they've done. Fantastic!

CaptainFez  said about 5 years ago:

Does anyone else have little, almost-chirpy sounds appear at times through their copy? Trying to figure out if intentional or not. It's not quite like digital noise.

Could have ripped badly, I guess. Will have to give the actual CD a whirl in the car.

percolator  said about 5 years ago:

Does anyone else have little, almost-chirpy sounds appear at times through their copy? Trying to figure out if intentional or not.

heaps of layers going on but it does sound intentional to me. it's a really great record. i loved chemist but think i like this even more. they're actually getting more interesting with each album.

djbollocks  said about 5 years ago:

Heard this today. It's freaking good.

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