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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Necks - Unfold (Ideologic Organ, 2017) ****½

By Philip Coombs

As we northern Canadians have finally stopped shoveling and started mowing our lawns after another long and dark winter, one can hear summer music blasting our of cars still riding on snow tires out of fear of a relapse. I can very clearly remember back when my band mates and I were starting to get our first taste of summer driving. We had an old beater of a car that worked fine except for the cassette deck. It had enveloped and held hostage the album Shaved Fish by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band so whether we wanted it to or not, that was the soundtrack of that summer.

I stumbled on that memory as I was driving to work and realized that I had been playing Unfold by Australian heavyweights The Necks for quite some time now and was becoming the soundtrack of this summer, albeit by choice this time.

I have fallen into the well-orchestrated trance of this group before, usually, a 45-50 minute single track ebbing and flowing and eventually releasing you only to realize that you had arrived at work largely by muscle memory.

The one major difference with Unfold is the number of tracks. This time around, instead of expanding on one central idea, they have given us four. The reason for this is the decision to release Unfold on vinyl, thus based on the restraints of the medium, four unnumbered sides were written to be listened to in whatever order strikes you. I was not one of the lucky ones to get in on the vinyl before the first pressing sold out but my digital download proved to have the same effect. Unfold became the album without a sequence.

How would The Necks navigate these parameters? Why, quite well, thank you. Chris Abrahams (piano and Hammond Organ) takes the liberty of driving 'Overhear' with his Hammond and on 'Rise' he shows his searching side with the piano. Lloyd Swanton (electric and double bass) and Tony Buck (drums and guitar) surround Abrahams like the outside of a puzzle and the more they squeeze inward, the more the piano responds to the claustrophobia.

The other two tracks, 'Blue Mountain' and 'Timepiece' are stomping grounds for the rhythm section. Buck and Swanton blast their way with what seems to be a full attack but only to realize soon enough that there are still layers that can be found. A refreshing approach for a group that has 19 records under their belt.

Here I am again sitting in my car, parked outside a grey building wondering if I can finish this track before I have to off the ignition and walk out into the morning sun and the only thing I can think of is I hope all my Australian friends are enjoying winter.