Whether intentionally or coincidentally, both the band name The Necks and the album title Body refer to parts of a guitar, an instrument that is prominently featured on the trio’s twentieth release. The fifty-six-minute, four-movement piece starts in familiar territory, with a persistent cymbal figure from percussionist Tony Buck backing Chris Abrahams’ minimalistic piano swells, creating a swirling atmosphere anchored by Lloyd Swanton’s bass. Just before the twenty-five minute mark, however, there is a jarring increase in volume and intensity as Buck begins to wail on electric guitar, and the rhythm section kicks into a relentless driving beat, reminiscent of the Velvet Underground’s noisier 1966-era instrumental jams. Fifteen minutes later, the rocking ends as abruptly as it began, segueing into a slow denouement over the final section.
In many ways, this CD is business as usual for The Necks. There is the long single track with extensive use of repetition, rises and falls in intensity, and textures somewhere between ambient music and free jazz, all synergizing to hypnotic and ecstatic effect. I cannot, however, recall any other album by them with as long or as powerful a pure rock section; rarely has the trio’s music changed directions as instantaneously as it does here. Nevertheless, ample unity is provided by a whirring unease permeating the quieter sections, which foreshadows the storm to come, and some lightness within the noisier parts via Abrahams’ shifting chord voicings.
The Necks have remained true to themselves while charting new terrain, something old fans will appreciate and that will perhaps attract new followers from the post-rock camp.