By Dave Cantor | Published December 2020
Australian pianist Chris Abrahams—a founding member of The Necks—started issuing solo dates prior to recording with the avant-trio he’s most associated with. And while his contemplative touch on Appearance, as well as across a raft of solo dates reaching back to the mid-’80s, is almost immediately recognizable, there’s less twitchy energy at work on the two new tunes here than Necks aficionados might expect.
The instrumental, slowly paced offerings—enduringly placid, appealing and contemplative—arrive as untouched clay, waiting for listeners to etch their impressions on the surface. But there’s form here, to be sure: “As A Vehicle, The Dream” gently floats its melody up and lets it wash away. Abrahams retains the easily accessible sound at the keyboard here that’s helped The Necks merge shimmering calm with angsty rhythms for decades. Even shorn of company, pianist still manages to burrow deeply into ideas on Appearance, gently churning up shifting embellishments to each extended cut comprising the album.
That Abrahams might be considering an overarching thematic concept is totally possible—perhaps hinted at by the title “Surface Level,” the album’s second track. But the allure of his performance here is that the listener can project their own ideas and predilections across the backdrop of beautifully wrought sound.