Travel is the 19th studio album of the Australian legendary free improvisation trio The Necks in more than thirty years of activity. This album documents The Necks’ recent communal practice of beginning each day in the studio with a 20-minute improvisation. Four of these extended, live improvisations at Sydney’s 301 studios made it into Travel, with some light overdubs and post-production, and all reflect faithfully The Necks’ dynamics of live performances. Travel is also a double vinyl and like The Necks’ acclaimed Unfold (released by Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ, 2017) features four about twenty minutes pieces, instead of the sixty-plus minutes’ pieces that The Necks perfected over many years.
You can trust The Necks to present and reshape its unique and profound, democratic dynamics like no other trio. The Necks build patiently and methodically their supposedly minimalist but ecstatic interplay that stresses its deeply hypnotic rhythmic conception and the austere, poetic articulation of all the musicians – pianist Chris Abrahams, double bass player Lloyd Swanton and drummer-percussionist Tony Buck. The Necks weave emotional, lyrical and sometimes even bluesy themes within these addictive, catharsis-free pieces, and gently allowing these evocative, layered pieces to grow on themselves, as well as the listeners and letting themselves and listeners immerse in meditative pulses and ambiance as if it becomes a part of their bloodstream as the last piece is titled, and play these captivating pieces play on and on, for continuous hours.
This creative approach is presented with major variations. The first piece, «Signal», is the most uplifting one and highlights the elaborate and layered rhythmic conception of The Necks; the second one, «Forming» offers a most fragile and introspective side of the trio; the third one, «Imprinting», is the most ethereal and intriguing one and the last one «Bloodstream» transforms the minimalist, repetitive vibe into a ritualist one, with Abrahams’ organ playing adding a reverent aroma. Any Travel into The Necks’ musical universe is always a highly rewarding experience.
Fellow-Australian pianist-composer Alister Spence plays regularly with The Necks’ double bass player Swanton in his trio for more than twenty years now. Mythographer documents Spence’s meeting with another member of the legendary trio, drummer-percussionist Buck, captured in one very productive afternoon session in the same location, Sydney’s 301 studios, in January 2022. Both Spence and Buck are highly creative and endlessly curious, adventurous and distinct improvisers, who share a fascination with submerged forms of rhythm, nonconventional narratives and entwined interplay. Their musical histories have run in parallel and occasionally intersected for the last thirty years, and for the last five years or so they have been enjoying re-connecting musically. Mythographer is their first duo recording.
The seven pieces highlight Spence and Buck’s sonic imagination, obviously, inspired by their wealth of musical experience and rich vocabularies. The opening piece, aptly titled «Dry Wood Talking» establishes the conversational, kinetic and puzzling dynamics between the rhythmic, prepared piano of Spence and the pulse-free yet driving drumming of Buck. The 23-minute «And Yet She Turns» is a minimalist, poetic soundscape with an enigmatic inner logic, beautifully articulated by Spence and ornamented gently by Buck, and the following, short and dramatic «The Extent to Which We Still Need Beauty» cements this meditative, poetic beauty. Spence and Buck experiment with more abstract and oblique forms on «Curious Terrain», the title piece and the last «Put to Sea», allowing the music to take them into unchartered territories. Mythographer demands more meetings between these gifted improvisers.
Chris Abrahams (p, org), Tony Buck (dr, perc), Lloyd Swanton (b), Alister Spence (p, prep.p, perc)