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Necks, The: Body (Northern Spy)

A strong start to the Australian trio The Neck's 24th album, as Chris Abrahams on piano & keyboards, Tony Buck on drums, percussion & guitar, and Lloyd Swanton on acoustic bass present a powerhouse of free improvisation in a single hour-long work, the first half evoking jazz leaning, with a free and spacious bridge that builds suddenly to a rocking groove.

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product information:

UPC: 689770737899

Label: Northern Spy
Catalog ID: CD-NS-104
Squidco Product Code: 26610

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2018
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Music Feeds, in St Peters, Australia, by Tim Whitten.


Chris Abrahams-piano, keyboards

Tony Buck-drums, percussion, guitar

Lloyd Swanton-acoustic bass

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Artist Biographies:

"Chris Abrahams was born in Oamaru, New Zealand but grew up in Sydney, Australia.

He became very active in the Sydney jazz scene in the early eighties playing with modern jazz groups including Mark Simmonds' Freeboppers and The Keys Music Orchestra. With Lloyd Swanton he formed the 60's modern jazz-influenced The Benders in 1982. During its day, the band released three albums - E, False Laughter and Distance.

In 1984 Chris recorded and released his first solo piano album - Piano, followed in 1986 by Walk.

In 1985 Chris became a founding member of the Sydney indie rock band The Sparklers. As a result of this, Chris began working regularly with the singer and songwriter Melanie Oxley. Chris collaborated with Melanie, writing songs and producing albums, throughout the nineties. There are five releases with her: Resisting Calm (1990), Welcome to Violet (1992), Coal (1994), Jerusalem Bay (1998) and Blood Oranges (2003).

Chris released a third solo piano album, Glow, in 2001. This was followed in 2003 by Streaming, and then Thrown (2004), Play Scar (2010) and Memory Night (2013).

Chris has collaborated, in both recording and performance, with many contemporary improvising musicians including Burkhard Beins, Mike Cooper and Anthony Pateras. He performs regularly in the improvising music scenes both in Australia and Europe."

-The Necks Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Born in Sydney in 1962, Tony is regarded as one of Australia's most creative and adventurous exports, with vast experience across the globe. He has been involved in a highly diverse array of projects. Apart from The Necks, he is probably best known as leader of hardcore/impro band PERIL.

Early in his musical life, after having graduated from the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music, he became very involved in the jazz scene in Australia, often touring with visiting international artists such as Vincent Herring, Clifford Jordan, Mickey Tucker, Branford Marsalis and Ernie Watts, as well as Australians Mark Simmonds, Paul Grabowsky, The catholics, Sandy Evans and Dale Barlow.

Following time spent in Japan, where he formed PERIL with Otomo Yoshihide and Kato Hideki, Tony moved to Europe, and has involved himself in many projects there, including the development of new "virtual" MIDI controllers at STEIM in Amsterdam.

Tony has played, toured or recorded with, among others, Jon Rose, Nicolas Collins, Tenko, John Zorn, Tom Cora, Phil Minton, Haino, Switchbox, The Machine for Making Sense, Ne Zhdall, The EX, Peter Brotzmann, Hans Reichel, The Little Red Spiders, Subrito Roy Chowdury, Clifford Jordan, Kletka Red, Han Bennink, Shelley Hirsch, Wayne Horvitz, Palinckx, and Ground Zero."

-The Necks Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Described by Billboard Magazine as "an outstanding and imaginative Australian bassist and composer", Lloyd Swanton was born into a large and musical family in Sydney in 1960.

His long-running group, The catholics, has released eight albums, all produced and predominantly composed by him, with three receiving ARIA Award nominations. Their album Simple was nominated for the German Deutsche Schallplattenkritik Award.

His 12-part suite Ambon, drawing from his uncle Stuart's secret diary kept whilst a prisoner of war in World War II, had its premiere in 2015, and is now released as a double CD.

Overseas exposure in nearly 40 countries with numerous groups includes countless performances throughout Europe, Canada, the USA, Mexico, India, Cuba, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan.

For fourteen years, Lloyd Swanton hosted Mixed Marriage, a very popular radio program which examined crossings of jazz with other musical styles, on Eastside Radio in Sydney.

In his spare time, Lloyd is an avid follower of Australian Football, and a keen collector of Australian Aboriginal art, ice crushers, modernist ceramics, and books on Fellini. He is also gathering historical information on his distant ancestor Theodore Deck, a leading name in 19th Century French ceramics."

-The Necks Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:

1. Body 56:38
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Australia's greatest cult band, The Necks, has a new piece to offer the world this summer, entitled Body. Different again to all previous Necks albums, the band has chosen 10 words and phrases that summarize the four richly contrasting episodes of this hour-long, mesmerizing groove. They are as follows: Episodic, Driving, Dynamic, Layered, Celebratory, Soaring, Rocking out, Buoyant, Sustained, Perfectly paced. The Necks hold their own with the best of them when it comes to rhythmic complexity, but they have put much of that to one side for this album in the interests of conjuring their most relentlessly driving album since Hanging Gardens."-Northern Spy

"The Necks are like water. On record and in concert the Australian trio are in constant motion. The seas they conjure tend to remain relatively steady (the band have been referred to as an "ambient jazz" group after all), but the intensity of the waves can fluctuate wildly. So, whilst The Necks may be one of the few bands around that can aurally convey a genuine sense of peace and calm, they can also do the exact opposite. In full flow, in fact, the band is capable of making their deceptively minimalistic sound punishingly visceral. The liquid flow of their music always remains, however. Chris Abrahams' piano always remains an anchor, or rather a sight of land amongst the squall of Tony Buck's percussion and Lloyd Swanton's bass.

Body, the guitar-toting twentieth Necks record, is slightly different. It's not the first time that the band has expanded their instrumental palate. Guitars have appeared before, electronics have been introduced at times, and Abrahams has dabbled with the organ on several occasions. Still, the blast of thrashing electric guitar that takes the one-track, 57-minute Body into its central section comes as an undeniable shock. This is not a flirtation but the sound of the Necks entering genuine rock territory... and it's brilliant.

It also could be something of a in the arm for the trio. Whilst the band have never released anything that falls noticeably below their own high standards, recent Necks records have perhaps suffered from the simple fact of arriving twenty-plus years into the group's career.

Last year's Unfold was far more overlooked than it deserved, given that it contained some of the most subtly inventive music of the band's career across its (by Necks standard) epic track list. Vertigo (2015) and Open (2013) failed to garner as much enthusiasm as the rest of the band's acclaimed post-2000 releases. Excellent as all three records were, the slightness of their innovations has failed to lead to them being ranked in the top tier of the Necks discography.

Whether Body can break that trend is likely to depend on how listeners react to the aforementioned muscularity of its central section. The opening and closing portions of the album, which contain some of the most beautifully restrained piano-led work the trio have ever committed to tape, are unlikely to prove controversial. The abruptness of the transition to rock freneticism may, however, cause confusion amongst some long-term Necks followers. Certainly, for a band that has made its name predominantly off the back of gradually evolving compositions, the sudden nature of the jump into the storm here is rather unusual. Rarely have The Necks switched gears so rapidly and conclusively.

That sight of land nevertheless, remains at the heart of the trio's approach. The tension generated by Buck (who is pulling double duty by providing the guitar here) and Swanton is still placed in focus by Abrahams. The guitar may be the headline news here, but it is the pianist who dictates Body's progress through the tempest. The frantic hammering of the rock explosion here is balanced out by the almost sombre, reflective outro that Abrahams leads. It's the sound of a legendary band considering itself and its practice, and recognising what makes them truly great. For all the excitement of the noisy gesticulations that separate this album from what has gone before, it's this haunting closing section that cements Body's place as one of the highlights of a long and storied career."-Benjamin Bland, Drowned in Sound

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Get additional information at Drowned in Sound
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Rock and Related
Improvised Rock
Trio Recordings
The Necks
Australian Improvisers, Composers and Experimenters
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Piano Trio (Piano Bass Drums)

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