Vertigo - The Necks -
Anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing this trio perform knows they are peerless. I've seen them regularly over the last three decades and, in that time, witnessed perhaps two shows which did less than amaze. During their hour long improvisations, the listener is irresistibly relocated to a zone in which instruments give voice to sounds they cannot make in acoustic spaces they do not occupy. The performances generate nameless psycho-acoustic phenomena of astonishing beauty which live long in the mind but, alas are rarely captured in any of the live recordings released over the years. Don't get me wrong, most of these releases would be the envy of any lesser band. They just don't approach the alchemical revelation of The Necks in concert; in the white heat of spontaneous composition. The studio albums, in which overdubs and more complex sound mixing are explored are different animals: more deliberate, thoughtful, meticulous affairs. With Vertigo, The Necks have, for the first time in my opinion, distilled and captured the essence of their performances. Using a wider pallet of sound sources including some electronic keyboards, layered mixing and what sounds like electric guitar, they have "reproduced" some of the illusions which often materialize in the furnace of their live shows. This is a dark album of truly thrilling music. Certainly their best since Hanging Gardens yet utterly different in every respect. Where the former was driven by intricate rhythms of crystalline precision and delicacy, Vertigo heaves with brooding, leviathan menace, trembling piano geometries and the quantum maneuvers of Tony Buck's impossible percussion playing.