Album: The Necks

Drive By, Fish Of Milk / RER

The Necks are the drummer Tony Buck, the bassist Lloyd Swanton and the pianist Chris Abrahams, an Australian jazz trio who over the past 16 years have transformed themselves into an engrossing ambient/chill-out unit through the judicious addition of organ, synthesiser and electronic effects to their sound. Following on from their "breakthrough" recordings, 2001's Hanging Gardens and 2002's Aether, Drive By is a single hour-long piece whose steady but shifting textures provide the perfect accompaniment to a long journey, soothing away any road-rage frustrations. Its loping bassline, subtle organ offbeats and silky, sibilant cymbals form a creeping hypnotic pulse, with occasional found-sound elements oozing over the music's surface, like thin watercolour washes. The sparse melodic motifs are provided by simple sequences of two or three notes of piano or organ, combinations pregnant with enigmatic, faintly sinister intimations. It's been cut together from disparate fragments in the manner of Miles Davis's In a Silent Way, whose misty crepuscularity provides its most obvious antecedent, though there are also echoes of Eberhard Weber's Yellow Fields and the likes of Terry Riley, Morton Feldman, Keith Jarrett, Can and Stomu Yamashta. Eminent company to keep, but Drive By cruises elegantly alongside the best of them.