Necks are patiently waiting to deliver

The necks ★★★★
Melbourne Recital Centre, January 28

Of all the assets The Necks possess as performers, perhaps the most striking is their patience. Chris Abrahams, Lloyd Swanton and Tony Buck wait like zen monks, in silence, for the right moment to unfold their improvised musical stories.

Patiently, instinctively, they develop each motif: a cluster of piano notes becomes a waterfall, a sonorous arco bass note evolves into an insistent buzz, a brushstroke on the snare creates an irresistible momentum. They resist the temptation to resolve or come to a conclusion, letting the music take its quiet course.

The necks – Lloyd Swanton, Tony Buck and Chris Abrahams.Credit:

Patience has served the trio particularly well over the past two years, with concerts and tours canceled or postponed again and again. The trio (including Buck, who lives in Berlin) didn’t say a word throughout the concert, but their pleasure in being reunited – with each other and with the audience – was very clear.

The first set opened with spare piano stings and turned into a rough sea, filled with tension and unease. Resonances and harmonics collided in hallucinatory clouds before Swanton’s bass (sounding eerily like a didgeridoo) woke us from the fever dream.


Buck started the second track with a croak in the shape of a frog (emanated from a strummed percussion instrument) then a small shaker, hit against the floor tom. This ritualistic sound underpinned almost the entire 50-minute piece, creating a continuous – but never metronomic – heartbeat for a fascinating journey that encompassed tiny delicate details (Abrahams focusing his laser-like attention on just a handful of notes) and an ecstatic sweep. propulsion.

The trio maintained that celebratory feel, with Swanton alternating between throbbing urgency and sustained single notes, Buck full of kinetic energy as his torso rocked back and forth, and Abrahams discovering a bluesy roll in the middle of his emphatic chords. Gradually they quieted down, and all that was left was Buck’s shaker – still patiently beating – before he too succumbed to silence.

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