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Necks, The: Chemist

Most forms of expression simply reinforce perception, or at best shade it somewhat. And while few forms of expression are as well suited to playing with and manipulating perception as is music, even fewer musicians have done so with the remarkable ease displayed by The Necks with Chemist.

Some years ago the title might easily have been Alchemist, obsessed with transformations of time and pitch while leaning on the less knowable, more superstitious and subjective states of the mind and the way in which said mind apprehends the world around it. But no need for such metaphors and digressions here: The Necks know exactly what they are doing.

The three 20-minute pieces here assembled trade off each other in contrast and focus. In some cases the preoccupation is rhythmic, built on a foundation that seems stolid and predictive of little change while in reality managing to restate its own component parts and the relationship between those elements in a sustained span that cannot be identified as variation on a theme or even as the more contemporary phase music. This isn't sleight-of-hand, but a conscious compositional discipline that delivers nothing short of the illusion of standing still while remaining in constant motion.

In other instances the focus moves to subverting harmonic expectations, as the events between staggered impulses at times exhibit predictable and reassuring interactions, at other times establishing a complete independence from what precedes or what follows. This tendency to make and break patterns, or at least damage them, asks the listener to re-orient and finally drop any preconceptions as the music continues to reinvent its internal hierarchies.

And then there is a demonstration of another sort of steady state, where the shimmer never collapses to a drone and the rhythms continue to re-evaluate their relationship to some element which might -- just might -- have been removed from the final mix. The resulting sense of the absence of some critical element filled by a less directly related component generates a compelling tension in the heart of a radiantly beautiful and shifting cluster.

The music is as instructive as it is seductive, and for all its seemingly restless exploration remains completely approachable as it seems to define its own rules. The playing is in all cases atypical, and there is a studious avoidance of the melodic. Texture -- both electric and acoustic -- is to be the main order of business, reconciling the opposites of change and changlessness with an expertly balanced touch. Taken together, the three pieces which comprise Chemist become one of those rare records that is more than capable of improving your listening habits.

Track Listing
1) Fatal
2) Buoyant
3) Abillera

Added: October 30th 2006
Reviewer: Kerry Leimer
Related Link: ReR Megacorp
Hits: 2307
Language: english

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