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The Necks

The Necks - The Boys - 1998 - Wild Sound/MDS

The blockbuster Australian movie is about a day in the life of a psychopathic man, who returns home after serving a sentence for assault. It's a great movie, full of ominous atmosphere and suspense. It was nominated Best Soundtrack Album, ARIA Awards and Australian Guild of Screen Composers Awards. This album contains more music than was actually used in the original movie, and that's a bonus as the music is moody, atmospheric, very inventive and brilliantly played. The music is played in The Necks normal minimalistic fashion, and it is amazing how the trio can transform what seems like a simple note scale into so many intelligent and musically adept original compositions. The album differs from most Necks albums in that here we have seven individual tracks, as opposed to the trio's normal sparse track numbers. The Neck's "Silent Night" album is composed of two tracks on two CD's, so "The Boys" is a break from tradition. There are some great movie "soundtrack" albums available. Many of these albums are simply a collection of songs. Examples being "Me, Myself And Irene" with some great Steely Dan covers, "The Harder They Come", The Who's "Tommy", and the Beatle's "Help". The list goes on.....Then you have wonderful thematic works like the soundtracks from "Amélie" or "Blade Runner" which are best listened to as a whole. The composite parts on these thematic albums often reflect the atmosphere and feeling of the movie to great effect. One of the greatest ever soundtracks is Ry Cooder's "Paris, Texas", and that album is worth a listen. However, with "Paris, Texas", you do not necessarily need to have seen the movie to enjoy the music. The Neck's "The Boys" can hold up with the best of these thematic albums. Often we watch a movie, and the soundtrack music is purely "background noise", and often we are unconscious of it. Then we may buy the album, and suddenly the "background noise" materialises as real music, often beautifully constructed, and memorable. An album we play again, and again. Such an album is the music for "The Boys", and again, like "Paris, Texas", the music stands on it's own merit. The Necks are unique in the way they play ambient jazz rhythms, and their improvisational talents. Great music from a brilliant group that should be familiar to more people. Check out their "Next" album @ NEX/NXT The Neck's "Townsville" album can be found @ NEX/TVLE and the trio's fabulous "Silent Night" jazz opus is @ NEX/SILNT Buy The Neck's hypnotic "Hanging Gardens" album. Brilliant, and unique jazz of a genre invented by this great Australian group.


1. The Boys I (4:28)
2. He Led Them into the World (10:21)
3. Headlights (10:11)
4. The Boys II (3:15)
5. The Sleep of Champions (6:33)
6. Fife and Drum (10:22)
7. The Boys III (3:43

All tracks composed by Chris Abrahams, Tony Buck, & Lloyd Swanton


Chris Abrahams (piano/keyboards)
Lloyd Swanton (bass)
Tony Buck (drums)


Ross Ahern Engineer, Mixing
Robert Connolly Producer
John Maynard Producer
Paul McNeil Design
Nick Meyers Editing
Daniel Segal Mastering
Albert Zychowski Assistant


The Boys was originally issued in 1998 on Australia's Wild Sound label. It contains the soundtrack for the blockbuster Australian film of the same name directed by Rowan Woods. But it is more than a soundtrack as well. The disc contains more music than was used in the motion picture and stands as a true Necks album in its own right. The Necks — Chris Abrahams (piano/keyboards), Tony Buck (drums), and Lloyd Swanton (bass) — who have become synonymous with long, gradually unfolding opuses of harmonically adventurous and intoxicatingly accessible jazz, are at their tightest here. The space inside this music is vast, unhurried; it is repetitive and hypnotic. The title theme and its two variations offer shimmering, moody chords, attenuated with various effects that draw the listener further and further into the progression. As cues come and go, improvisation slips in and the listener is carried so far into the mix that all notions of time have drifted away. There is simple and intricate melody here, there is unintrusive use of dissonance, and the inventive rhythmic subtlety makes this seem as if it were all a single piece with many movements. This is a welcome addition to the American side of the Necks catalog, and may be the perfect place to start for the curious. © Thom Jurek, allmusic.com

BIO (Wikipedia)

The Necks are an experimental jazz trio from Sydney, Australia, comprising Chris Abrahams on piano and Hammond organ, Tony Buck on drums, percussion and electric guitar and Lloyd Swanton on bass guitar and double bass. The band plays improvisational pieces of up to an hour in length that explore the development and demise of repeating musical figures. As well as jazz, their sound could be said to be reminiscent of Krautrock. Typically a live performance will begin very quietly with one of the musicians playing something very simple. One by one, the other two will join with their own contributions, all three independent yet intertwined. As the 'piece' builds through subtle micro-changes, the interaction of their instruments creates layers of harmonics and prismatic washes of sound that lead some to appellation 'trance jazz'. Instant by instant, their music seems driven not so much by the convention of cause and effect, but by the 'insistent demand of the moment'. Consequently their live performances can be challenging for those expecting a conventional musical experience, as The Necks' music may remain in a seemingly interminable 'holding pattern' until, paradoxically, sufficient momentum has built up for a break-out into the next phase of development. The Necks are also well known in Europe. Their soundtrack for The Boys was nominated for ARIA Best Soundtrack Album, AFI Best Musical Score and Australian Guild of Screen Composers Award. They have also recorded soundtracks for What's The Deal? (1997) and In the Mind of the Architect (three one-hour ABC-TV documentaries, 2000). Venues played in Sydney include The Basement, the Harbourside Brasserie, and the Vanguard in Newtown. A performance at the Sydney Opera House in 2003 was interrupted by the venue management due to a minor technical problem, to the obvious dissatisfaction of band and audience. In Melbourne, they have played numerous times at The Corner Hotel in Richmond. In 2006 the Necks played at the Melbourne Town Hall with Abrahams playing the pipe organ instead of piano. Unfortunately a hard drive failure meant the recording of that performance was also interrupted, much to the dismay of the band.


Unclassifiable, the Necks stand aside any other musical act Australia has gave birth to. Neither jazz nor rock, this deceptive piano trio has kept a single line of conduct throughout its career. They usually start playing a very basic melodic and rhythmic figure, and then keep going at it for an hour, gradually introducing microscopic changes and variations. Some critics have compared them to Krautrock groups like Can and Faust. Others find similarities in the works of minimalist composers like LaMonte Young, Tony Conrad, even Philip Glass. The Necks were formed in Sydney, Australia, back in 1987. The original lineup of pianist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton, and drummer Tony Buck remained stable, even though they all lead busy and highly different careers. Abrahams is an acclaimed session keyboardist who has released a couple of solo piano albums, has written music for film and television, and toured the world in 1993 with the rock group Midnight Oil. Swanton is a much in-demand session jazz bassist and a regular of the jazz festival circuit. He has played in the Benders and the Catholics, and accompanied Stephen Cummings and Sting. Buck spends most of his time in avant-garde circles, with multiple collaborations and projects. His best known engagements have include the trio PERIL and the klezmer-punk group Kletka Red. The Necks' first album came out in 1989 on their own label, Fish of Milk. The reviews were enthusiastic, most people praising the group's ability to blend simplicity and experimentation. They would play whenever the three musicians were in Australia at the same time. The next three albums experimented with the format, integrating occasional guests (Stevie Wishart on Aquatic), electronics, and more. But, by the 1998 Piano Bass Drums, the recipe had been fixed and would not change anymore. In 1996, the label Private Music released Sex in the United States. It was the group's first exposure on the American continent and it did not get them far. But Europe was catching on and the group began a series of annual tours there. Piano Bass Drums and the soundtrack for Rowan Woods' film The Boys both received Australian award nominations in 1998. The more energetic, almost space rocking Hanging Gardens, released in 1999, opened more doors, including a first American tour in late 2001. The album was picked up for distribution by the British avant-garde label ReR Megacorp the same year. Another North-American tour in 2002 followed the release of Aether, the group's studio masterpiece. Drive By followed in 2003. © François Couture, All Music Guide


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