the necks

last week i saw the necks at the union chapel. most descriptions of the band say something like 'experimental jazz trio of double bass, drums and piano'. they'll probably mention krautrock and minimalism and stuff. none of this is inaccurate, but none of this (and not even their cds) comes close to capturing what they do on a stage with just three instruments.

not that i'm going to do any better, but i have to say this was one of the most transcendent gigs i've ever seen. or to be more accurate, heard. i kept my eyes shut for 90% of it - not because the band were particularly unattractive, and the union chapel is a gorgeous venue - but it was mainly because i couldn't reconcile what i saw on the stage with what i heard coming from it. building up from simple, spaced repeated figures, they go (usually over around 40 mins) from ripples to huge waves. something happens when all the overtones and harmonics created by the eddying piano arpeggios, clouds of cymbals and so on mesh; bells, electric pianos, harps and even what sounded like a choir emerge, wraith like, and fade. it is at times, unbearably beautiful without ever descending into mere prettiness. in a way this is kind of the same thing that phill niblock or john butcher or alvin curran or evan parker do; exploiting acoustic phenomena to musical ends. in the necks case, the ends were enough to leave me almost speechless; enough to render me incapable of going for a pint afterwards and going straight to me bed.

last time i saw them i thought that the gig would go in my top five of all time etc. they just put another one in there.

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