One of the things that makes The Necks so brilliant is their continual exploration of organicism in any and all its forms, not only in pure musical terms but also as ensemble. For the past few years that’s meant drawing certain associations that can be traced all the way back to Sex (1989), and which emphasize the grounded, material nature of an ambient that is born of expressionism and not impressionism. The careful threading of senses in revolt from Vertigo (2015) and the physical intervention of the listener in the experience of playing Unfold (2017) both refer to the actuality of human movements, processes, and feelings, as against ambient’s more abstract tendency towards ‘the mind’. Body forms part of this line, inasmuch as it opens up organicism as more than just the intricate weaving of a whole whose parts are subtly, delicately intertwined: its sections here are clear, divided, as individualized as the ensemble has ever presented itself.
Just like you could conceivably simplify the human body to four general parts (legs, torso, arms, head), Body, like Unfold before it, is also markedly sectioned in four, building up contrasts in the continuities between each movement. This classicality in Body’s form could remit listeners to the equally classical principle according to which all bodies are made from four elements – heat, moisture, earth, and air, a mixture of which determines the nature of all beings; their interactions, when in balance, lead to health and a good life, but when one overcomes another then extreme emotions and temperaments arise.
The first section, which is about 15 minutes long, grounds the piece in a meditative flow of a generally repetitive, particularly distinct piano motif, quietly paced bass, and the relentless, determined rhythm of cymbal percussion. The second section is shorter (10 minutes or so), swerving away from the drums and piano, leaving only strings to revel in harmony and extended notes, an ethereal plane in which a guitar repeats tones like a bell, growing from sheer resonance. Half-way through the album, The Necks pull off a move incredibly rare in their extended discography – they launch into a fully motorik rock-out with all instruments in play. Your head will be compelled to rock with the fiery, driven rhythm as the noise pours out from the mix and the layers of sound fracture beautifully and powerfully, laying the mind blank with the urge to let your body move. After the fire turns to mere embers, the last part of the album, about 15 minutes long, pulls back entirely into restrained expressions that drone and reverb their way into a subtle flow, distant and yet present, as if listening from inside an echo chamber, submerged in resonance.
Like the movements of a body, these pieces articulate very distinct forms into a whole that is not necessarily coherent (the fire ends far too suddenly, after all), every element an expression of drives that congeal into the materiality of a raised arm, a turning head, a leg about to cross unto the other: sometimes the subtlety of a gesture is an indication of something far more complex, but sometimes it is of no profound significance as well. The organicism of Body is of a different kind, one that allows for proportions to become inexact, one that allows the asymmetry of inner life to reflect upon both the low-key and obvious asymmetries of our bodies. Each part is distinct, and does not lose its uniqueness when conceived as part of something else. (David Murrieta Flores)