Necks | Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Necks Recommended Free All Ages Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Tue., Feb. 3, 7 p.m. 2009

Since forming in 1987, Australian trio the Necks have pursued a simple idea with remarkable focus. Keyboardist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton, and drummer Tony Buck begin nearly all their performances by improvising a brief motif—they never rehearse as a group—and then spend the next 45 minutes or so looping it over and over, in the process slowly deconstructing and reconfiguring it. Serene, measured, and almost hypnotizing, their lush, repetitive music has been compared to Krautrock or Steve Reich-style minimalism, and because it stays lucid and accessible even when the notes are pattering by in an intricate rush, it’s possible to hear every one of the constant tiny shifts that combine to drive its evolution. At times their pieces sound like the result of natural processes, not intellectual effort; as Abrahams told the Wire last year, “There is an ecstatic state you can reach. If things start happening that are really interesting, it’s suddenly no effort to play.” The Necks’ latest album, Townsville (ReR, 2007), is gentle and inviting, making it especially easy to surrender to the subtly mutating phrases, letting them wash over you and carry you where they will. These shows are the trio’s Chicago debut. —Peter Margasak

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