The Necks Unfold

The Necks Unfold
Much like their peers the Ex or the Dead C, Australian three-piece the Necks have managed to amass a fervent following within certain circles in their home country while remaining virtually anonymous in North America. Although Unfold, the band's 19th full-length, probably won't win them many new fans, the avant-garde lifers have proven just how frequently and reliably they're able to pump out their own brand of thoughtful, genre-pushing experimental jazz.
Over four sprawling tracks, each ranging between 15 and 20 minutes, the trio manage to keep their ideas fresh and focused. Album opener "Rise" shows Chris Abrahams' gentle, free-form piano playfully circling Tony Buck's crashing cymbals, while followup track "Blue Mountain" remains the only piece that truly changes its sonic shape (if only slightly), as Abrahams' meditative organ cascades into a jittery apex over the song's quarter-hour runtime.
"Overhear" benefits from Lloyd Swanton's hypnotic bass, which helps propel his band mates' cyclical noodling, while closer "Timepiece" features the album's most nuanced and adventurous moments, as all three musicians stick close to similar musical motifs, slightly altering certain phrases and melodies.
The Necks don't exactly break new ground with Unfold, but it's refreshing nonetheless to see that they're also not regressing — a small miracle for any band 30 years into their career. (Editions Mego)