[MUSIC: Album Review] The Necks- Mindset
The Necks look like jazz musicians, but the music is unclassifiable and inimitable. Live sets mould the merest edge of a musical idea into an intricate and psychedelic hour-long canvas with only the slightest thematic variations and little sonic trickery. Their records follow suit, embellishing the minimalism and illusion of progression with a more diverse swathe of instruments – organ, synth and guitar – but the focus is largely the same: a miasmic trance of piano, upright bass, and drums.
Mindset breaks with The Necks’ usual format, comprising of two tracks instead of one, and their first to be released on vinyl. The opener, ‘Rum Jungle’, is akin to the shuffling, claustrophobic improvisations that have cropped up in a number of the trio’s Sydney shows over the past 18 months. Percussion traps loping bass to create an intensely paranoid mood early in the piece. It’s compounded by searing clusters of bass notes that tear from the piano, which seems hungry to suck all of the piece’s light and air into itself. Eventually, minor chords descend to illuminate the scene, and the terror yields to an exhilarating, panoramic melancholy.
‘Daylights’ is meditative and eerie. An anxious, spinning mobile of high-register ivory motifs is ruptured by quiet traces of insectoid electronics. Staccato jabs from the piano and bass interject this, while an analog synth scrapes its fingernails across the surface of it all. Dense webs of muted percussion only heighten the atmosphere, as evolving piano trills begin to run up the nape of your neck. It’s less pyrotechnically terrifying than the preceding piece, but no less immersive.
Listening over computer speakers will defeat the purpose. The closer you get to this music, the more overwhelmingly evocative it becomes.