ISSUE is thrilled to welcome back legendary Australian trio The Necks for three special performances celebrating their 30th anniversary February 23rd through 25th. A cult phenomenon of cathartic, sonic possibility -- The Necks have been praised by the LA Times as “among the world’s greatest forces in music,” developing their distinct and enthralling sound over three decades, nineteen albums, and countless performances across the world. Marking their first ISSUE appearance in full form since 2010, ISSUE presents three distinct performances that highlight key performance practices the trio has embarked upon over their stunning experimental tenure.
Thursday, February 23rd, Chris Abrahams, Lloyd Swanton and Tony Buck each perform solo sets showcasing their distinct instrumental approaches that emphasize independent performative contributions to their collaborative music.
Chris Abrahams has developed a formidable reputation as a solo pianist, with solo performances exploring the resonating properties of the vibrating piano string – coaxing from it strange, varied sounds that often transcend the generally observed tonal qualities of the instrument. At times his approach borders on the electronic – using acoustically modeled reverbs, distortion, delays, and low frequency oscillations. He conjures a meditative sound world that is both mesmerising and emotional. Abrahams performed solo during ISSUE’s Spring 2016 season, a performance that Richard Gher for the Village Voice noted as “patient, pointillist, and almost architectonic ad hoc piano constructions. Augmenting a piano's natural sound with distorted reverberations, looping, and nearly subliminal sine waves, Abrahams' solo albums display minimalist, ambient, industrial, and free-jazz tendencies.”
Tony Buck has been performing solo concerts for at least two decades. In the past, these performances have often incorporated live electronics and sampling, but, in the last 10 years or so, he has concentrated on creating live, improvised pieces using the drum kit, assorted small percussion instruments, guitar, video and other acoustic sound sources.
Apart from leading The catholics, Lloyd Swanton has performed with many of the cornerstones of Australian music. Swanton’s recent solo work “Ambon,” a major suite of compositions for a twelve-piece ensemble (which was drawn from the secret prison diary of his uncle, who died a prisoner of the Japanese in World War II) premiered to great acclaim in 2015 and a double CD studio recording of the work was also released that year.
Following their solo performances, the evening closes with the three coming together to perform as The Necks.
The Necks are one of the great cult bands of Australia. Chris Abrahams (piano), Tony Buck (drums), and Lloyd Swanton (bass) conjure a chemistry together that defies description in orthodox terms. Featuring lengthy pieces which slowly unravel in the most mesmerising fashion, frequently underpinned by an insistent deep groove, the eighteen albums by The Necks stand up to re-listening time and time again. The deceptive simplicity of their music throws forth new charms on each hearing. Not entirely avant-garde, nor minimalist, nor ambient, nor jazz, the music of The Necks is possibly unique in the world today.
Chris Abrahams was born in Oamaru, New Zealand but grew up in Sydney, Australia. He became very active in the Sydney jazz scene in the early eighties playing with modern jazz groups including Mark Simmonds’ Freeboppers and The Keys Music Orchestra. With Lloyd Swanton he formed the 60’s modern jazz-influenced The Benders in 1982. During its day, the band released three albums - E, False Laughter and Distance. In 1984 Chris recorded and released his first solo piano album - Piano, followed in 1986 by Walk. In 1985 Chris became a founding member of the Sydney indie rock band The Sparklers. As a result of this, Chris began working regularly with the singer and songwriter Melanie Oxley. Chris collaborated with Melanie, writing songs and producing albums, throughout the nineties. There are five releases with her: Resisting Calm (1990), Welcome to Violet (1992), Coal (1994), Jerusalem Bay (1998) and Blood Oranges (2003). Chris released a third solo piano album, Glow, in 2001. This was followed in 2003 by Streaming, and then Thrown (2004), Play Scar (2010) Memory Night (2013) and Fluid to Influence (2016) on Room40 records. Chris has collaborated, in both recording and performance, with many contemporary improvising musicians including Burkhard Beins, Mike Cooper and Anthony Pateras. He performs regularly in the improvising music scenes both in Australia and Europe.
Tony Buck is regarded as one of Australia's most creative and adventurous exports, with vast experience across the globe. He has been involved in a highly diverse array of projects but is probably best known around the world as a member of the trio The Necks. Following studies and early experience in Australia he spent time in Japan, where he formed PERIL with Otomo Yoshihide and Kato Hideki ( before relocating to Europe in the mid-nineties. Some of the more high profile projects he has been involved with, aside from The Necks, include the band Kletka Red and touring and recording with, among others, The EX, The Exiles, and Corchestra, and involvement with most of the international improvisation and new music community including performances at major festivals and venues such as Nickelsdorf (ÖS), Donaueschingen (DE), London Jazz Festival (GB), Northsea Jazz Festival (NL), ATP, Mona Foma (AUS), Victoriaville (CAN), Musique Action (FR), MärzMusik (DE), Barbican (UK) BAM (US) and the Sydney Opera House (AU); a.o. He also creates video works for use with live music performance and has had pieces shown in Tokyo, Belfast, Berlin, New York and Sydney. Current projects include TRANSMIT (a guitar driven post-rock project); CIRCADIA with Kim Myhr, Joe Williamson and David Stackenäs; SPILL with Magda Mayas; New York based trio "Glacial" (with David Watson and Lee Renaldo); The Hailu Mergia Trio with Mike Majkowski: the trio Velum with John Butcher and Magda Mayas: and a long standing duo with Axel Doerner.
Described by Billboard Magazine as "an outstanding and imaginative Australian bassist and composer,” Lloyd Swanton was born into a large and musical family in Sydney in 1960. His long-running group, The catholics, has released eight albums, all produced and predominantly composed by him, with three receiving ARIA Award nominations. Their album Simple was nominated for the German Deutsche Schallplattenkritik Award.His 12-part suite Ambon, drawing from his uncle Stuart's secret diary kept whilst a prisoner of war in World War II, had its premiere in 2015, and is now released as a double CD. Overseas exposure in nearly 40 countries with numerous groups includes countless performances throughout Europe, Canada, the USA, Mexico, India, Cuba, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. For fourteen years, Lloyd Swanton hosted Mixed Marriage, a very popular radio program which examined crossings of jazz with other musical styles, on Eastside Radio in Sydney. In his spare time, Lloyd is an avid follower of Australian Football, and a keen collector of Australian Aboriginal art, ice crushers, modernist ceramics, and books on Fellini. He is also gathering historical information on his distant ancestor Theodore Deck, a leading name in 19th Century French ceramics.