Experimental / Contemporary / Free Improvisation

The Necks with strings

par Michel Rondeau

Photo credit: Camille Walsh

The Necks is an intrepid Australian trio who, for the past 30 years, have been offering long improvisations that develop slowly, organically, never in a hurry but always ready to explore rare musical territories, at the crossroads of ambient, free jazz and contemporary music.

Sometimes the three musicians have invited a fourth musician to join them, a high-flying improviser like Evan Parker or Ned Rothenberg, for example. In 2017, though, their guest was none other than a full symphony orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ilan Volkov. In fact, it’s quite the opposite of the usual, since the proposal came from the Israeli-born conductor and took place at the Glasgow Tectonics Festival, of which he is one of the curators.

For the concert, drummer Tony Buck had prepared 10 graphic scores for the percussion section and double bassist Lloyd Swanton had made four for the string section. With some 60 musicians, it was necessary to at least establish some guidelines to prevent the adventure from turning into a grandiose mess. 

The recording of this very special 47-minute event is available until the end of the month on the site of the venerable British broadcaster.

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