Reviews that mention Chris Abrahams

December 21, 2016

Chris Abrahams & Burkhard Beins

Instead of the Sun
Herbal Conrete Disc 1602

Serge Baghdassarians/Boris Baltschun/Burkhard Beins

Future Perfect

Mikroton Recordings CD 49

Often when dealing with music heavily oriented towards electronics two scenarios are in play. One can imagine a so-called movie for the mind with images suggested by the sounds on disc. Alternately the listener can passively surrender to the performance as an entity, letting it wash over consciousness like white noise in a feedback session. Each of these approaches is suggested by these CDs featuring Berlin-based sound artist/percussionist Burkhard Beins. Alongside fellow Germans Serge Baghdassarians using mixing desk, delays and guitar plus Boris Baltschun’s computer and sampler, Future Perfect was recorded during 2008 and 2009, and then mixed by Baghdassarians and Baltschun during the later year and 2015. It remains in the abstract orbit. Its antithesis, Instead of the Sun, recorded by Australian Chris Abrahams playing synthesizers and electronics plus Beins using percussion and electronics, and subsequently mixed by the percussionist, includes distinctive enough themes so that a pictorial representative is advanced – at least in the mind’s eye. MORE

April 12, 2016

The Necks

Vertigo
Northern Spy NS 067

By Ken Waxman

Members of the Australian trio, the Necks habitually construct mesmerizing CDs consisting of one extended improvisation. As committed to their musical vision as ensembles such as the Beaux Arts or the Lyric Arts trios were to theirs, after three decades as a band pianist/keyboardist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton and percussionist Tony Buck can still alter the overall interpretation in such a way that it become like an aural kaleidoscope offering novel facets on each playing. MORE

September 21, 2015

Roil

Raft of the Meadows
NoBusiness Records NBLP 80

Lotto

Ask the Dust

Lado ABC Records DL

Attesting to his dual Polish-Australian heritage, double bassist Mike Majkowski’s playing on these trio sessions is bifurcated but refreshingly consistent. A prodigious player with a broad confident tone, Sydney-born Mike Majkowski has lived in Berlin since 2011.

On Raft of the Meadows, like the muscle in a teen idol’s entourage, he focuses his spacious attributes on seconding the sometimes lissome interludes of pianist Chris Arahams, long-time member of The Necks trio. More hard-hitting and not enraptured like much of the Necks sound, the Roil trio, which has been together since 2007, inhabits the area where melodic Jazz brushes up Free Improv. Completing the all-Aussie cast is drummer James Waples, who has performed with Down-under stylists such as saxophonist Dale Barlow and pianist Mike Nock. MORE

June 4, 2014

Tree

Tree
Music Moderna M008

Polwechsel

Traces of Wood

hatology 712

Engrossed with exploring the intricate links and disconnections among improvised, notated and electronically generated sounds, Berlin-based percussionist Bukhard Beins is one of the theoreticians of Echtzeitmusik or real-time music. This theory of slowly developing, low-key connections in which drone and quivers are showcased more so than dramatic individual tones, is clearly, if somewhat blurrily, epitomized by Trees. Traces of Wood may be even more notable though. That’s because it captures the mutation of what has been a long-standing ensemble built around horn and string players, to one set apart by a string-percussion partnership. MORE

December 27, 2013

Magda Mayas and Chris Abrahams

Gardener
Relative Pitch RPR 1011

Spill

Fluoresce

Monotype Records Mono050

As she becomes progressively better known, it’s evident that Berlin-based Magda Mayas is one of the evolving masters – or more properly mistresses – of extended keyboard playing. Regularly improvising with fellow sound explorers such as prepared guitarist Annette Krebs from Berlin and Parisian alto saxophonist Christine Abdelnour, the keyboardist has revealed close-listening and participating strategies. Gardener and Fluoresce confirm this; but the CD with her long-time partner, percussionist Tony Buck comes across as more satisfying than the one featuring keyboardist Chris Abrahams, despite him, like Buck, being an Australian plus a member of The Necks. MORE

May 18, 2013

Chris Abrahams/Sabine Vogel

Koopfüberwell
Absinth Records 024

Toering/Varner/Treuheit

Usquert I-XI

Listermusic lm007

Although Fats Waller recorded some Jazz sides on the pipe organ in the 1930s, as did a few other lesser known players later on, the concept of modern organ improvising is associated with the portable the electronic model popularized by Jimmy Smith and others from 1956 onwards. At least, that is, until Free Music came along. Looking for new avenues of expression, adventurous keyboardists tried their hand improvising on mammoth pipe organs that have sat in theatres or churches for years, sometimes centuries. On these CDs, for instance, two German residents have come up with programs which contrast bellowing organ timbres from the multi-pipes acoustic model with distinctive timbres from other instruments, plus in some cases taking into account spatial audio qualities. But there are major differences as well. MORE

March 26, 2013

Chris Abrahams/Lucio Capece

None of Them Would Remember It That Way
Mikroton cd 13

Lucio Capece

Zero Plus Zero

Potlatch P112

Palpably attempting to transform drones so that their properties can be used as sonic building blocks has long been a preoccupation of Lucio Capece. Because of this, the Argentinean-born, Berlin-based sound maker has, over the past few years, expanded his instrumental arsenal so that he is as often manipulating a sruti box, a double plugged equalizer, a ring modulator and sine waves as soprano saxophone or bass clarinet. The desired result, as these CDs aptly demonstrate, is a polyphonic acoustical environment which transcends hermetic textures to expose ones that are more open and organic. MORE

August 16, 2012

The Necks

Mindset
ReR Necks10

Roil

Frost Frost

Bo’Weavil weavil 42 CD

Buried among the resilient, intertwined polyphony which has characterized Australian trio The Necks’ creations over more than a quarter-century is the realization that each member is a first-class originator on his own. That why it’s instructive to compare Mindset, the band’s 16th CD, with Frost Frost, by Roil, a piano trio featuring The Necks’ pianist Chris Abrahams. As soldered as the tremolo patterning and aleatory dynamics of the sometimes-multi-tracked Abrahams are to the solid tempo of bassist Lloyd Swaton and the firm beat and interpolated samples from drummer Tony Buck with The Necks, the Roil CD displays his proficiency in a new setting. MORE

August 16, 2012

Roil

Frost Frost
Bo’Weavil weavil 42 CD

The Necks

Mindset

ReR Necks10

Buried among the resilient, intertwined polyphony which has characterized Australian trio The Necks’ creations over more than a quarter-century is the realization that each member is a first-class originator on his own. That why it’s instructive to compare Mindset, the band’s 16th CD, with Frost Frost, by Roil, a piano trio featuring The Necks’ pianist Chris Abrahams. As soldered as the tremolo patterning and aleatory dynamics of the sometimes-multi-tracked Abrahams are to the solid tempo of bassist Lloyd Swaton and the firm beat and interpolated samples from drummer Tony Buck with The Necks, the Roil CD displays his proficiency in a new setting. MORE

April 23, 2011

Cooper/Abrahams/Kurzmann/Delius/Thomas/Dafeldecker/Buck

Hammeriver
Mikroton CD 8l

A billet doux – and re-configuration – of the music of one harpist by another, Hammeriver is Australian-in-Berlin Clare Cooper’s interpretation of some of the sounds created by American Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda. The result, as expressed on this CD’s five tracks, is alternatively agitato and moderato sounds. They are notably atmospheric as well as being true to Coltrane’s spiritual ideals, but without being remotely imitative. Generated during one day in a former-GDR radio station recording studio, the sounds encompass Cooper’s graphic scoring of the 1968 Coltrane composition plus the septet’s further alchemic transformation of affiliated sounds through novel improvisational blends. MORE

February 6, 2010

The Necks

Silverwater
Fish of Milk/ReR Necks 9

Aptly described as mesmerizing, the sonic currents created by Australian trio The Necks sweep listeners along without complaint during any one of the band’s hour-long, time-suspending performances. The audience at the trio’s Music Gallery show in late January could testify to that. Yet Silverwater – named for an industrial suburb of Sydney – pulses with even more textures, since with overdubbing and granualization multiple and fungible sonic layers can be exposed.

That means that the swelling and jabbing organ tones played by Chris Abrahams that quiver throughout this one-track CD to reach a crescendo of almost visual three-dimensional polyphony, sometimes operate in tandem with knife-sharp piano chording – also played by Abrahams. Additionally, samples and patching split Tony Buck’s percussion skills so that rhythmic tambourine shakes, thick press rolls, ratcheting wood scrapes and a steady backbeat are heard all at once. Holding the bottom are the rhythmically powerful and chromatic spiccato runs of bassist Lloyd Swanton, occasionally doubled by overdubbing. MORE

July 2, 2008

The Splinter Orchestra

The Splinter Orchestra
SPLITREC 17

Mating the minimal in sound with the maximal in personnel, this CD by Sydney, Australia-based Splinter Orchestra is instructive in that it demonstrates how subdued 26 musicians can sound in performance. Blending triggered electronic impulses and improvisers’ uncompromisingly extended tropes, the assiduous five-part suite also encompasses a couple of blazing, tutti explosions. But the fortissimo ferocity of those outbursts, plus their short duration serves to underscore the reductionist ethos of the rest of the program. MORE

March 6, 2008

The Necks

Townsville
ReR Necks 8

Kapital Band 1

Playing By Numbers

Mosz 017

With terms such as ambient and minimalist sloppily and frequently bandied about, their correct connotation becomes as blurred as the sound often is during purported performances of the musical genre they’re supposed to represent.

The advantage of CDs such as The Necks’ Townsville and Kapital Band 1’s Playing By Numbers, however is that they’re ingeniously designed by musicians who concentrate as much on the details of creation as the overall structure. The discs also demonstrate that homespun, unfussy and discreet sonic creations should be expansive, not static or flimsy. Furthermore, although each band may be slotted in the same sub-section of musical creation, each pursues a different itinerary to reach its defined objective. MORE

March 6, 2008

Kapital Band 1

Playing By Numbers
Mosz 017

The Necks

Townsville

ReR Necks 8

With terms such as ambient and minimalist sloppily and frequently bandied about, their correct connotation becomes as blurred as the sound often is during purported performances of the musical genre they’re supposed to represent.

The advantage of CDs such as The Necks’ Townsville and Kapital Band 1’s Playing By Numbers, however is that they’re ingeniously designed by musicians who concentrate as much on the details of creation as the overall structure. The discs also demonstrate that homespun, unfussy and discreet sonic creations should be expansive, not static or flimsy. Furthermore, although each band may be slotted in the same sub-section of musical creation, each pursues a different itinerary to reach its defined objective. MORE

January 17, 2005

THE NECKS

The Boys - music for the feature film
ReRNECKS4

HOUSE BAND
Cycle Maintenance
Louie Records 033

Coming from completely different places -- not to mention continents -- because of a similar instrumental make up, these CDs end up with more similarities than differences.

What is even odder, however, is that THE BOYS is a studio amplification of the music Australian trio The Necks improvised for the 1998 feature film of the same name, while CYCLE MAINTENACE resulted from spontaneous sessions from a quartet of Portland, Ore. musicians early in 2004. MORE

August 16, 2004

JON ROSE/CHRIS ABRAHAMS/CLAYTON THOMAS

Artery
The NOWnow

RODRIGUES/UEBELE/ RODRIGUES/OLIVEIRA
Contre-Plongeé [six cuts for string quartet]
Creative Sources

By Ken Waxman

August 16, 2004

Turbulence and silence, rapidity and languorousness, are the attributes that separate each of these string-driven sessions from one another. Yet the precise methodology and sophisticated experimentation of the seven musicians involved, makes it obvious that contrapuntal chamber music is a plastic enough form to be successfully adapted to pure improv. MORE

April 5, 2004

COOPER-MOORE/TOM ABBS/CHAD TAYLOR

Triptych Myth
Hopscotch 14

THE NECKS
Drive By
Fish of Milk RER NECKS3

Piano, bass and drums combos have been one of the defining configurations of improvised music for more than five decades. But as these two exceptional trio sessions prove, with the right ideas and techniques, there’s still plenty that can be done with this traditional form.

Microtonalists, Australians The Necks do cheat a little bit on DRIVE BY. Using all the resources of a modern studio, keyboard man Chris Abrahams is able to doubletrack himself on piano, electric piano and organ, while drummer Tony Buck adds different percussion and samples. But seemingly tireless bassist Lloyd Swanton still uses his acoustic model to shape the rhythmic foundation of the one, more than hour-long piece that makes up the CD. MORE

February 24, 2003

THE NECKS

Athenaeum, Homebush, Quay & Raab
Fish of Milk FOM 0008

For the uninitiated, hearing performances and CDs by the Australian trio The Necks are somewhat akin to looking at those cartoon quizzes that ask you to find the differences between two nearly identical pictures. Everything sounds very similar. But more contemplative exposure to the band’s work -- like careful examination of those pictures -- reveals a host of singular details, making The Necks’s creations not only exciting, but unique as well.

So it is with this oddly titled, 4-CD collection of live tracks. About 3¼ hours of music, each instant composition takes up one complete disc. Three of the shows were recorded in the band’s native Australia, one in Austria, and were transferred to CD with minimal postproduction and editing work. All can be heard as mesmerizing examples of ritualistic minimalism. MORE

July 13, 2002

THE NECKS

Hanging Gardens
RerNECKS1

THE NECKS
Aether
Fish of Milk FOM 007

Australia’s The Necks seem to occupy a musical space somewhere between the jam band groove of the U.S.’s Medeski, Martin & Wood (MM&W) and the ambient intellectualism of the U.K.’s AMM.

Deft at mood creation, the band’s CDs and live shows are all of a piece, consisting of only one composition that takes about an hour to reveal its many facets. Like AMM’s conception, the time period allows the band members to take a piece through all its possible permutations before it’s exhausted. Unlike the British group, though, they maintain a constant, often foot-tapping beat. While the endproduct isn’t as outrightly intellectual or discerning as AMM’s, it also isn’t submerged into an almost endless, unvarying groove like many of MM&W’s compositions, which often clock in at a radio-friendly few minutes. MORE