The Necks 

Mindset

Australia's Necks truly defy categorization. While individual members have backgrounds (and separate careers) in rock (mainstream and not), jazz, klezmer, and the avant-garde, the mothership Necks stands alone, a sphere unto itself. Wholly instrumental, neither rock nor jazz but drawing freely from both, The Necks repeat and elaborate upon melodic and rhythmic motifs à la Philip Glass or Steve Reich, with one important distinction: This band is propelled by improvisation rather than strict composition.

Mindset consists of two lengthy pieces. The opening of "Rum Jungle" is tantamount to being dropped into a jungle scenario, with bass and drums laying down a dense, throbbing, angular, and pensive rhythm. Rattling, jarring piano chords cut a swath through the foliage as wisps of melody emerge gradually from the rear, rising from beneath the rumbling keys. More and more piano notes advance, virtually cascading as a summer storm. They call to mind the layered guitar textures of Robert Fripp, the swirl of neo-psychedelicists Spacemen 3, and the ringing massed guitars of Glenn Branca. Wails and cries resound, not unlike those heard on journeys to the center of the mind with Kraut-rockers Neu and La Düsseldorf. This safari is mystifying, hypnotic, cathartic, and harrowing, sometimes all at once.

"Daylights" is another beast entirely. The bass almost functions as a drone, mantra-like, anchoring shimmering electric piano notes. Progressively the drumming (and cymbals) raise a not-too-distant ruckus, evoking drum 'n' bass and jungle. Assorted keyboards (at least, they sound like keyboards, though it's hard to verify with no instrumental credits included) and feedback are layered continuously while bright shiny tones sparkle in the foreground. All told, Mindset is a demanding, compelling platter. (ReR Megacorp)

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