The Necks

(Northern Spy)

The Necks are both complicated and guileless.

For more than 30 years, the Sydney-based trio has been moving through jazz, ambient and avant-rock while dispatching more than 20 albums, frequently offering up a single, long track on each improvised disc. And while Three comes with, that’s right, three cuts, the individual works still function as a single sonic premise.

“Bloom,” the album’s opener, rattles with Tony Buck’s percussion as Lloyd Swanton’s bass ostinato lends the tune an odd sense of swing. Here as on each of Three’s tracks, pianist Chris Abrahams lets every chord he plays breathe. There’s not a rush to compete with the rhythm section’s momentum, Abrahams seems to think, his contributions giving the album a sense of calm, even during moments of intensity.

It’s that contrast making Three one of the group’s most engaging recent albums: Open drifted too much and Vertigo comes off as a bit too baroque. But Unfold and Body work in the same way as this most recent effort, despite including more rockist intentions. But like each of the band’s albums, these latest discs offer subtle variations on just a handful of themes. Even if the crackling results are soothing to some and an aural irritant to others, the trio’s belief in its mission and dedication to improvisation is something more than laudable.