Saturday, November 30, 2013

Song of the day

"Open", by The Necks.

I am not even going to try to give you a YouTube clip or Soundcloud link for this. First, nobody in their right mind is going to sit in front of a computer or on a phone for 68 minutes listening to a piece of music. Secondly, "Open" is such a lovely package that it deserves to be absorbed as intended: take the disc out of the cardboard sleeve, load it into your high-end audiophile compact disc player, draw the curtains, settle into your comfy chair, close your eyes, and let it wash over you.

For one thing, it's one of the nicest CD covers I have ever seen. The grey and yellow combination is a winner, the simplicity of the design is typical of the Necks' design crew, and as you open the gatefold sleeve you realise that you are revealing, letter by letter, the name of the record. As in: "open" starts to appear as you "open" the disc. (And the "N" on the back cover, as well as being the last letter of "open", is also the first letter of "Necks". See what they did there?)

As for the music, it is notable in a couple of respects: at 68 minutes, it is the longest single piece of music they have released. In addition, in taking a step away from the wall-of-sound elements of their more recent recordings and shows (at least those of my experience), they have in a sense gone back to the basics of their very first record as The Necks, "Sex" (still one of my favourite Necks pieces, and one of the few "non-mainstream" records in my collection that impresses all who listen to it) (which probably negates the idea of it being "non-mainstream"). But rather than just retread that idea (as if they would ever do that), they have infused it with elements of everything they have learnt throughout their long and winding musical adventure together.

The best thing about it for me, though, is how, around the 45-minute mark, it puts me in mind of "1/1", from Brian Eno's "Ambient 1: Music For Airports", one of my all-time favourite pieces of music. The odd thing about this, though, is that I only get that sense if I listen to it all the way through: I tried to recreate it just by playing that passage and, in a nutshell, I got nothin'. I couldn't even tell I was listening to the right section of the track. What's with that? I suppose after 45 minutes of close listening you get in a kind of zone. "Open" is my kind of zone.

It would make an ideal Christmas present.