For fans of the classic US avant-garde, this year’s edition of the London Jazz Festival has been something of a treat. We had Archie Shepp in full cry on Thursday, Ornette Coleman will be dropping in to the Royal Festival Hall tomorrow, and tonight there was an extremely rare appearance by the singular Henry Threadgill.
Now in their 24th year, the Necks’ release Mindset, their 16th album – and first LP, featuring two starkly contrasting tracks: the pulsating, raw, Rum Jungle and the slower building, rather hypnotic Daylights. Polyrhythms imbue both pieces with powerful forward motion, embroiled with which ethereal piano patterns interweave with bass, drums, electronics, churning Hammonds and noise-guitars. Drummer and percussionist Tony Buck writes: “Mindset shares some elements in common with our previous album Silverwater , mostly in some mixing approaches and rhythmic devices – a reflection of our ongoing fascination with polymetric material and varying simultaneous pulses… but it’s a whole other thing again, and the two tracks are very different from one another – Rum Jungle captures the live approach of the piano, bass, and drum trio a lot more, while Daylights features a bed of electronics and little sounds that slowly converge, coalescing into a multi-layered, multi-tempo, swirling soundscape.”
A set of twisty, forty-ideas-a-minute, niftily arranged, irredeemably eccentric, but strangely brilliant songs that skip blithely across genre borders – from Nashville through the Miskatonic by way of the Beach Boys… even the production values range across the history of recording, sometimes switching inside a single song; so – a high-information ride, but still engagingly listenable. Finished with his new CD, Bob sends the raw songs – just chords and melody – to Dave Kerman (ds), David Campbell (bs, vc) and Kavus Torabi (guit, vc) and, a few months later, they assemble at the Crumbling Tomes studio to work up the songs for a performance. Bob is in the band but the band is not being taught his interpretations and arrangements. It finds its own. After a week of rehearsals, there is a show for an invited audience, recorded live. So now we have a second great album – quite different from Bob’s own. On the CD, both versions sit side-by-side, each very different, but still intimately linked to one another.