THE NECKS - Hanging Gardens CD (Fish Of Milk/1999)
Somehow, in my fit of Necks enthusiasm of the last few years, this one slipped me by. Heard it at a friend's place a week or two back, shuddered at the thought that Another Great Necks Album had evaded my eagle eye, and rectified the situation, pronto. This is an odd one, but a good one. But then again, describing a Necks album as "odd" means so little you need not even open your mouth to say it. No two Necks albums sound the same. They're a unit constantly changing and transforming themselves into something new. What makes this one so odd is that it was recorded way back in 1996, with additional music added on in 1999. The notes don't tell you what was actually "added" three years later, but I'll take a guess and say it was likely Chris Abrahams' cosmic keyboard work c/o his Hammond and Rhodes noted in the credits. I only say this because I used to see The Necks a bit 'round the '96/'97 period and they sounded nothing like this (they were purely acoustic). Hanging Gardens comes across like Miles' In A Silent Way LP stuck on 45 w/ a Jaki Liebezeit drum track played over the top. Tony Buck's percussion is fast, tight and rock-like, whilst Abrahams swooshes and whirls throughout, with acoustic piano creeping in slow, ascending lines like a Morricone spaghetti western theme. One track: 60 minutes. Speaking of great musical runs, The Necks - the best currently operational musical unit in Australia - haven't played a note out of place for a long time now: the pure genius runs from Hanging Gardens through to Aether, Drive-By, Mosquito/See Through and last year's The Chemist. That's a healthy stretch of greatness. Hey, I'll stop rattling on about this band when you've bought 'em all!