I think it was Jez Nelson on Jazz On 3 who said that with the Necks, you know exactly what to expect – and it’s different every time. And so it is. They did exactly what was expected – two sets of forty five minutes each. And each completely different, and unique.
It is otherwise hard to describe the Necks. After they come on stage and sit or stand at their instruments, there is silence. And then one of them starts to play. It was bassist Lloyd Swanton in the first set, with long bowed notes; the pianist, Chris Abrahams, in the second, a random phrase. And it all starts from that, and goes wherever it goes.
The Necks’ necks, in Edinburgh 2007
Not jazz as many might recognise it, they include a lot of contemporary classical idiom. The is a distinct influence of serial music: some stretches of both sets reminded me if Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich or Philip Glass. But it is improvised, and generative. The communication and interplay between the musicians was tangible, as they listened, responded, and developed a shared conversation.
Tony Buck, London Jazz Festival, 2010
The effect was mesmeric and meditative, the music subtly changing and evolving as it progressed This was music to get lost in. It was hard to discern much structure: there was meter rather than rhythm. In the first set, Tony Buck was drumming phrases, lots of long rolls, rather than keeping time. But the time was there, too.
An immersive, hypnotic performance.