Personnel: Chris Abrahams (piano, organ); Tony Buck (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Tim Whitten.
Recording information: 2000.
The Necks have rarely flirted this close to new age music. Aether is simply their best release, a wonderful album that breathes at its own pace. The trick is the same as usual: start on something and play for an hour applying only gradual changes. What is different this time is the tempo -- very, very slow -- and the attitude. Although the group's music has never been easy to categorize, there was a consensus to consider it jazz, mainly on the strength of the piano/bass/drums instrumentation and a vague sense of swing. This time it moves completely out of that field into, well..."Aether." The piece begins with a four-chord motif, laid down softly, each chord separated by complete silence and placed 21 seconds apart. As time goes by the space gets filled so very gently by Tony Buck's washes of cymbals, Lloyd Swanton's bass, and Chris Abrahams' delicate piano playing, sometimes augmented by some soft organ and a few notes on an electric piano. At midpoint, Buck begins to roll on two cymbals, strikingly evoking breathing. Calm and peace arise from this idea anchored by the heartbeat-like bassline. When you thought they could not surprise you anymore, the Necks delivered their most mature, captivating album. Strongly recommended. ~ Fran?ois Couture