(New Album Review) The Necks- Open

Last October, the legendary improvisational jazz group The Necks released their 13th studio album, Open. Consisting of a single hour long track, this album is not exactly entry-level fare but is easily one of the best albums in their discography and perhaps one of the best albums of the year in any genre. Honestly, I like this album more than anything else that I’ve heard from them (and so far the only other album of theirs I’ve listened to in its entirety is Next, I think).

It’s an uncommonly gentle piece. Though this is, after all, improvised jazz, there is very little harshness or dissonance on the record. Entrancing piano figures and twittering keyboards ripple through susurrant waves of percussion with absolutely no technical-showofffishness for the sake of showoffishness. In true Necks fashion, keyboardist Chris Abrahams, percussionist Tony Buck, and bassist Lloyd Swanton all seem to fuse together into one consciousness. In fact there’s a 5 minute stretch of music that starts about 50 minutes in that gets close to perfection– a firm, spare bassline and shimmering percussion punctuate the silences between a figure on piano and another on guitar. There isn’t really a narrative to the album– it sways this way and then that, and you’re happy to come along on the journey.

I’m finding it hard to find the right words to attach to my impression of this album without gushing. Open is really lovely. All improvisational music should be like this. Hell, if more music in general were like this, I’d probably listen to much more new music each year. It’s great jazz that will reward a patient listener. Hurry up and listen to it already.

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