For a group that plays astoundingly powerful and expansive music, The Necks are one of the most inexplicable groups on the contemporary music scene, and this is partly due to their name.
The Necks were formed in 1987, and besides Tony Buck, who is based in Berlin, and who is also often described by critics as one of the best musicians not only from Australia, but on this planet, there are the other co-founders, two well-accomplished, mainly experimental jazz musicians on the Australian scene (both based in Sydney): Chris Abrahams, on keyboards, and Lloyd Swanton on bass guitar.
Over the last years, The Necks have performed at prestigious jazz and rock festivals, and classical concert venues including All Tomorrow’s Parties (the ATP Festival) in England, and Roskilde in Denmark, the Barbican in London, and the Sydney Opera House.
They also play smaller jazz and indie-rock clubs, apparently switching audiences by venues on a constant basis. The trick is that they can generally switch and win over audiences from a variety of venues with such finesse, which is quite rare on the contemporary music scene.
Or maybe not in every case, as Tony Buck admits: “Perhaps we have disappointed a few jazz fans along the way, because I don’t really think we play jazz; but perhaps a few indie rock fans have also felt short-changed. Who knows? Perhaps we disappoint a whole bunch of people!” he says.
“I think what we do has elements of all these different genres. It’s not as if what we do comes from nowhere. We draw on inspiration from everything from Indian classical music, jazz, industrial and ambient music to reggae and soul music, but it’s definitely none of those things in any pure sense.”
In their live performances, what comes across most impressively is the astounding musicianship of the trio, and the natural bond that they share in creating such majestic and complex improvisational compositions. They don’t adjust their repertoire or set list according to the venue, because there is none.
“With The Necks, we go out on stage without discussing what we will do at all beforehand. In that sense, the pieces are totally improvised. We do have areas the band works in, such as the idea of expanding, and extrapolating upon the ideas we come up with without moving far into other areas,” says Buck.
“We don’t play songs. We don’t repeat things. Every performance will never happen again,” he says.
May 8, Monday—De Singer, Rijkesvorsel, Belgium
May 9, Tuesday—La Dynamo, Paris, France
May 10, Wednesday—Palac Akropolis, Prague, Czech Republic
May 11, Thursday—Jazz Tibet Club, Olomouc, Czech Republic
May 12, Friday—Municipal Cultural Center, Usti Nad Labem, Czech Republic
Text: Tony Ozuna
Images: Camille Walsh, Alan Murphy, John Tapia Urquiza, Holimage.
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Last modified: July 15, 2018