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The Necks - 11/14/2016 - G Livelab - Helsinki

It has been a long time since I diverted my attention from the Rock and Metal scene to immerse myself into something so different as the music offered by the Australian trio The Necks. This enriching experience, divided into two improvised sets of roughly one hour each, couldn’t possibly have taken place in a better location. This was, in fact, also the first time for me at G Livelab. The cosiness and dimly lit atmosphere of the venue itself was indeed the perfect setting for this peculiar musical display. Based on Jazz and experimental avant-garde music with a minimalistic touch, it is really hard to precisely label a band into a rigorously defined genre when there are no clear rules in their compositions. This naturally adds to the uniqueness of these Australian musicians.

Finding room among the crammed tables filled by audience sipping - mostly - wine, the wait builds up for the appearance of the trio on stage, which is barely lit at the time by a blue light pointing at the brick wall in the background. This is the first time in the Finnish capital for the Sidney-based trio, celebrating with this tour their 30th anniversary, and after their performance at Tampere Jazz Happening in Pakkahuone.
Following a brief introduction, the first set starts with Lloyd Swanton plucking the chords of his double bass, letting the ensuing echo fill the room and silence the crowd. In a typical pattern exhibited by the band in these improvised live performances, the other two members follow. First Tony Buck joins in at the drums, and lastly Chris Abrahams sits at his Fazioli F308 piano. In the same sequence each of the members steps in, adding to the creation. The result is a melody with a soothing, almost trance-like sound that often repeats during the performance. When you close your eyes and focus on the harmonies coming from the stage, and then think that all of this is actually an improvisation, it shows the level of experience they have matured in playing together for three decades.

It really feels like witnessing the making of a unique musical canvas. As it is being painted, the audience grows aware of its elusiveness, as it is meant to last only until the last note will ultimately reverb across the venue. At times you get lost in just observing the surroundings, and stare at the trams passing by on the snow-covered street while losing yourself into the music, merging within the muffled soundscape in the background - courtesy of a quiet Autumn Monday night.
As their composition intensifies, the music propagates through the room, and the crowd is captured in the magic of these intertwined yet somehow independent sounds emanating by the trio’s instruments. At times Bucks gently lets just the tip of the drumstick do the job, other times draws circles with the cymbals on the drums or alternates different percussion instruments. Before you know it, the first set is over, and the intermission allows for this musical creation to seep in, while looking forward to the second half.
The second set begins in a similar way as the first, but while the previous part seemingly followed a certain calm, as in trying to calmly catch up an imaginary thread, the latter is increasingly more intense, at times more daring, exploring and pushing further their experimentation. Again, the three express themselves independently yet unifying their efforts in a piece that never sounds born from chaos, but instead merges the notes together in harmony to create something greater. When the show reaches its end, it feels like time had stopped for just a little while, and everyone inside G Livelab resumes their chatting while slowly heading to the merch desk or the door.

Being here today was certainly a sharp contrast compared to visiting the average music club, G Livelab has been clearly created with one purpose in mind, which is to create the best possible environment for musicians to perform, and in doing so, it certainly adds to what Helsinki has to offer.
Defining tonight’s experience as one of its kind is in this case truly fitting, not just because none of the band’s performances is the same as the other, but for being able to enjoy this particularly unique show in such a good atmosphere. Certainly a night to remember.

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Report a cura di Marco Manzi

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