By Dave Williams of Augie March:
I don’t care if this sounds hyperbolic but The Necks are one of the most important bands Australia has ever produced.
Their influence on musicians across the musical spectrum has been profound. Their approach to composition and live performance – gently unfurling a piece of improvised music over the course of an hour through incremental changes to each member’s part – has become a template for schooled and unschooled musicians alike when approaching solo or group improvisation.
That they themselves are highly skilled musicians who continually make the trippy and complex, the esoteric and weird, accessible and somehow imbue it all with such raw emotion and pathos is further proof of their individual and collective artistry.
I was turned onto them in the mid ’90s by a genius piano player named Ben Winkleman (thx Ben!) after sharing with him an idea I had of starting a band which only performed improvised music but was not strictly a ‘jazz’ band. He replied that there already existed such a band; they were a three piece based in Sydney made up of Chris Abrahams on grand piano, Lloyd Swanton on double bass, and Tony Buck on drum set, and that I should check them out when they were next in town.
They blew my tiny little mind.
The grand piano played like the keyboard was a typewriter; relentless repetitive notes a semitone apart blurring together; ecstatic cascading arpeggios; mind bending drum set counter rhythms; conventional and unconventional percussion soundscapes and textures; mysterious and funky double bass ostinato figures.
It was so unlike anything I had ever heard before; physical, abstract, cerebral…but deeply moving.
I instantly became a fan for life.
As other members of Augie March became aware of The Necks, it was realised Chris Abrahams had played keyboards on two albums by Sydney band, Crow who had been tremendously influential on us in our early years. That definitely helped The Necks get onto the tour van playlist – a sacred but highly contested space for any touring band – and we all fell under the spell of this magical ensemble.
All these years later The Necks are still bobbing up on the touring van stereo. I’ve lost count the number of times we have chucked on Sex, Piano Bass Drums, or Hanging Gardens to accompany a post show night time drive, staring hard out into the blackness and gradually disappearing into the music.
They have informed the approach to so many jams we have had in rehearsal, soundchecks, gigs, or in the recording studio. But most importantly, they continually remind us what can be achieved through the uncompromising commitment to a singular artistic vision.
Here’s my own outro bit about this post because you might be wonder what the hell is going on my little blog now? I am maybe, being lazy blogger and just re-posting some but not all or I’ve edited down this rag’s list! It’s 1st part of my re-post or just ripping off the Australian Rolling Stone magazine special edition of 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time published in December 2020 and as you can see sticking here on my own blog. Off course, I’m mainly interested in re-posting the more indie stuff on this list and what whoever wrote something about one of my favorite artist featured than what number they got?
I will say it’s unbelievable that The Necks even made it into something like the Aussie RS list at all! So it’s very lovely of them and it’s amazing and wonderful what the Augie March’s drummer Dave Williams had to say about them! I’ve embedded from bandcamp a couple of the three albums Dave names, if you want to have a listen a listen? Also including the video clip to When I Am Old from Augie March’s last studio album Bootikins of 2018. Mr. Williams can be seen with his snare drum in a bathtub, just above.
Dave also name drops a very long gone and mostly forgotten indie Aussie band with the name of Crow because Chris plays on their albums. Mr. Abrahams was like piano/organ/keyboards player for hire who he’s was on a hell of a lot Aussie albums in 80’s/90’s etc. that you might not know he’s on? By the way, guess who plays violin on this album? Warren Ellis. Anyway Crow’s 1995 album was called Li-Lo-Ing so as extra special bonus today because I was listening to them again, I’ve picked out that album’s longest song entitled Rabbits:
Explaining a little more I’m only really including on my little blog the artists that really, really, really mean something to me! Sorry to all those artists who do miss on my very biased selected, the rest are just simply way too mainstream or something for me? But the full list and all articles can be found on their website linked here. BTW to fill in the blank, it was Iggy Azalea who was #50. So not to totally dismiss them I’ll end these posts with whoever/s missed out. Below is Miss. Azalea earlier career track before she got way tooo famous for my liking with her song called Pu$$y and yeah letters “S”s are replaced with the dollar signs which, off course is totally different to all the music above: