Release Date: Oct 29, 2013
Record label: Northern Spy
Genre(s): Jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz
Open, as in undecided, ambiguous, equivocal, unresolved, unsettled, unfinished; as in a question that has yet to be answered; as in existing as neither wholly one thing or the other, as an indeterminate entity suspended between mutually exclusive poles. For 17 albums, The Necks — Chris Abrahams (piano), Tony Buck (drums), and Lloyd Swanton (bass) — have been sculpting music that is at once open to interpretation and and open in its dimensions. From the tranquilized swing of debut Sex (1995) through to the ex nihilo swells of Aether (2001) and the jittery paranoia of Chemist (2006), the Sydney trio lie somewhere in the fluctuating limbo between minimalism, jazz, and Krautrock, cultivating subtly extemporized arrangements that, in their often perforated and unhurried spaciousness, are as inclusive and incorporating of the silent, external, and non-musical as they are of their own proprietary, super-meticulous interplay of piano, bass, and drums.
I'm intensely relieved that I don't have to assign a score for this record in reviewing it here; beyond any vague, wider-pitched concerns about reducing any work of art to a numerical judgement, specifically, in this case, it makes no sense at all. I cannot judge this record against the criteria of useful for judging other records, except, possibly, for other records by The Necks. If you don't know The Necks, here is some context.
There’s no immediate tipoff that Mallu Magalhães is Brazilian on her United States debut album, “Highly Sensitive.” Ms. Magalhães, who is 21, sings the opening songs in American-accented English, casually slurring words and not worrying unduly about exact pitch. Most of her music is 1960’s-loving indie rock that can lean toward folk-pop or make room for a distorted lead guitar, and she has a gift for writing lightheartedly affectionate ditties with a personal skew.