Essential New Music: The Necks’ “Body”

Wherever the Necks find themselves, they’re all in. The Australian trio’s totally improvised concerts are direct responses to the room, the audience and each other. Last year’s Unfold self-consciously tackled the matter of making a vinyl double album by collecting four short-for-them performances, one per LP side. Now comes Body (out digitally now, physically September 21), which capitalizes on the studio’s resources.

The single, hour-long piece is as layered as their live sets are sparse, taking advantage of the members’ multi-instrumental talents to morph from pensive piano trio to full-on rock combo to drifting ambient space explorers. Whichever role they adopt, they inhabit it absolutely. But since Body is a studio record, the Necks also invite you to shift from macro to micro listening by zeroing in on particular instruments and allowing them chances to loom large upon the sound stage. The album’s title is more than a clue; whether they’re hammering a Krauty groove into the earth or inviting you to experience a piano from within, this is body music.

—Bill Meyer