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The Necks / Motus (live at Sonic Protest)

Motus live at Sonic ProtestÉglise Saint-Merri, Paris 9 April 2015

Paris’s historic Église Saint-Merri is the scene for the more sedate concerts in Sonic Protest‘s busy festival schedule of gigs which take place across the city and its environs over a very long weekend. The music which unfolds beneath the multi-coloured illuminations that scatter across the ranks of cherubim, illuminate the stained-glass windows and fall upon the various sculptures and multimedia installations which are scattered among its chilled stone walls tonight is nothing if not unusual and occasionally suitably uplifting.

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The Necks (live at The Vortex City Sessions)

The Necks live at the Bishopsgate Institute March 2014 The Bishopsgate Institute, London 21 March 2014

Greeted at the entrance to the venue by a very City commissionaire resplendent in full uniform complete with ceremonial sash and medals, it’s clear that this is going to be no ordinary gig. The Bishopsgate Institute is at once an adult education centre and a concert hall, and it’s certainly a splendid setting in which to revisit the live music of The Necks. A pleasant surprise is finding Gina Southgate at her easel in a corner by the stage, ready to paint the band as they play.

So when the trio eventually come on stage, their improvised set is the same as ever but different as usual, and oxymoron which

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The Necks – Open

Northern Spy (North America)/ReR (Europe)

The Necks - OpenI was determined not to like this album.

I’d signed up to review it in advance of The Necks’ sold out three-night stand at Café OTO in early November – new album review, live gig write-up, a nice little Necks package all tied up with a coloured bow on top. I’ve always like symmetry, me.

Yet the album never showed up from the USA. And it kept on not showing up. Eventually, Freq’s estimable editor had to get on the (metaphorical – Ed.) blower and hassle the record company again (And it was probably the Royal Mail’s fault anyway. Ed.). The weeks ticked by – still no show. First my ardour began to cool, and then,

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The Necks – Mindset

Recommended

The Necks seem to have been around forever and they’re still boiling the elements of jazz down, adding their signature dabbles and occasional electronic bursts, collecting and sieving through new sounds, gold panning their way into new forms. This album collects two 20 minute-plus tracks that shadow each other like long lost relatives at a wake. Not that this is dark music as such (though the bass rumbles) but rather that the two tracks circle each other, as if wary. They clearly know each other, share a few drops of the same gene pool, but they are rough twins, twins brought up by different brothers.

The first track “Rum Jungle” is the relentless one; drums tumbling almost into the late period jungle-jazz rhythms of Omni Trio. It’s all about the interweaves; the pulses are constant but shifting, the cymbals flicking against

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The Necks (live at The Barbican)

The Necks at The Barbican Theatre The Barbican Theatre, London 26 June 2010

The Necks have had a pretty good upswing in their fortunes with London performances over the last few years, with sold-out runs of nights at The Vortex in Dalston so successful they added in extra shows late into the night, followed up by a triumphantly immense performance in the ecclesiastically-charged setting of the Union Chapel in May 2009. Tonight’s set finds them moving further into the upper echelons of the capital’s establishment music scene by bringing their special brand of minimal-maximal improvisation to the Barbican Theatre, the smaller space in the Barbican arts centre – which is by any other standards a huge space where a pin dropped reverberates and a coughing audience member resonates into the auditorium.

So when Chris Abrahams starts things

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