The Necks are one of Australiaís finest exports (second only to Kylies bum) Their subtle brand of minimal instrumental music is built up with bass, drums and piano with lots of effects and studio wizardry, creating an unclassifiable mix that takes cues from Jazz, ambient and minimal musicís. They have a habit of creating one track albums that slowly unfold and reveal themselves but on Chemist they provide three tracks around the twenty minute mark.
Fatal is the first offering and the most spectral of the three. There is a heavy presence of curious processed guitar and bass sounds in the background over which a trance like groove is wielded by bassist Lloyd Swanton. The drums augment this groove and leave Chris Abrahamís piano to weave impressionistic swathes of sound across the music landscape. The groove never lets up during the tracks duration but the whirlwind of sound the wraps itself around the groove is so evolving and involving that you never feel any repetition.
Buoyant is the second track and the one that makes most use of pure electronic sounds. It begins like a piece of Asmus Tietchens sine wave work with randomly generated tone and clicky cicada like sounds. The piano then begins to drip notes into the mix and a rather tinny sounding high hat begins to form a rhythm section with Swantons Bass. There is nothing like the groove from the first track but this highly minimalist approach draws the listener in with a suspense filled sound. All the elements slowly unfold slow dancing their way through a sort of death lounge jazz melody that would probably appeal to fans of Bohren and der club ov gore.
Last track Abillera begins with a leaden sounding bass solo that clicks over like the ticking of some huge grandfather clock. After four minutes this gives way to a flowing wave of delayed and multitracked piano and a quite pop like groovy drums and bass rhythm section. The contrast between the utter minimal atonality of Buoyant and the exuberant groove of Abillera brings to the listener a greater appreciation of the bands use of space and rhythm. The track glows with uplifting drones and accessible drum patterns, slowing down before exploding into life with wonderfully shifting melodic patterns on the piano. Some Rhodes piano seems to be employed along the way to add tonal colour during the tracks midpoint.
Chemist is a cracking album of three perfectly crafted examples of a band at the top of their game.