Line Out Music & the City at Night

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Jazz Diaspora: The Necks Cast Spells

Posted by on Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

You like Morton Feldman, right? Mark Rothko? A good glass of scotch? How about a nice long raga? These four examples of art, to my mind, require that you slow down and pay attention. You could have a Feldman piece or a raga playing in the background while your actions / thoughts are occupied elsewhere and the sounds will touch you, even please you, but they will be at the surface of your attention. It is only when you stop and allow yourself to become immersed in the music, especially long-form music, that the potential of its profundity can be revealed. This immersion, when actively listening, becomes a form of meditation.

Listening to The Necks is akin to planting a garden in a fallow patch of earth, nurturing it and watching it grow into full bloom. The transformation and growth of the garden is slow, almost imperceptible, and yet it is changing, maturing and flowering over a long stretch of time. The Necks bassist Lloyd Swanton explains, "Our recordings are very much focused on questions of sound and perception and the passing of time … what you might call psycho-acoustic experiences." It is the slow unfurling of their music, the minutely additive embellishments and subtle transformations over long durations that lead to mesmerization. The Necks cast spells.

The restraint, patience, and unhurried developments in The Necks' improvised music leaves open vast realms to explore with any given musical notion. To begin is like setting sail on an ocean in a row boat. The repetition of a particular piece of sound combined with the smallest of changes to the sound results in a soporific trance. It is a drone that is constantly mutating, constantly in motion, constantly evolving. It's lulling and yet it compels you to pay attention so you can find out what will happen next.

Is it jazz? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? The choice is yours, you can tune way in or tune way out, let it wash over you or dive into the deep end and go for a swim. Swanton paraphrases William Blake: " There is that line that you can find eternity in a grain of sand. We’ve all had that experience, of focusing on something really small that is giving us an insight into something enormous, namely the universe or infinity."


Comments (17) RSS

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rtm 1
This is fabulous. Thanks!
Posted by rtm on January 10, 2014 at 12:45 PM · Report this
Well done Jeff
Posted by derkle on January 15, 2014 at 6:10 PM · Report this
Introduced to "Sex" in about 2007 and keep coming back to it-- transformational, liminal.. very cool. Thanks for bringing attention to this group!
Posted by dakno on January 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM · Report this
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