If the Necks settled on their music recipe in Silent Night, they got the sauce right in Piano Bass Drums. One of the reasons to explain it, apart from the fact that the group keeps on growing in terms of synergy, is the fact that this album was recorded live and each member focused on their primary instrument (instead of adding organ, samples, and effects). As a result, the structure of the music gets even more minimal than before, but it gains in interplay, artistry, and purity. The trio started on a waltz-like 3/4 riff, repeating the two-chord motif for an extended period of time with very little changes. Then, they gradually sped things up. As Chris Abrahams starts to add more and more ornaments, listeners lose the initial chords, opening the piece to free improvisation. Abrahams is a fantastic pianist and this CD is the first where he gets to truly shine. Lloyd Swanton keeps time with his double bass, but he also strips off the waltz feel and the tonality with reinforced subtlety. Tony Buck's cymbal playing is brilliant. Started as a jazz waltz of sorts, very lush and comfy, the piece ends up 50 minutes later as an atonal piano improvisation sustained by a steady pulse of undetermined time signature. Yet, the listener barely senses the movement -- simply stunning. Piano Bass Drums doesn't have the beauty of Aether or the hypnotic drive of Hanging Gardens, but it nonetheless stands among the group's best efforts and makes an excellent place to start exploring their discography.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture