If you’re in the mood for improvised, experimental jazz-trance music by an Australian band, you’re in luck — veteran band The Necks are coming all the way from their sunny homeland to headline the first installment of the London Ontario Live Arts concert series Friday evening at Museum London.
The folks who bring unique musical talent to the city every September for LOLA Festival are continuing the tradition, and are ecstatic that The Necks — a trio that has released 14 albums — are hitting the stage.
“[We’ve] been following The Necks for quite some time,” explains LOLA artistic director Paul Walde. “They were on our radar as someone who we would like to get but probably never would because they’re in Australia.”
The band is fortunately able to pass through London after a performance in Toronto this week. Walde says their visit is an indication of the flourishing local music scene.
“We’re on the radar with some of the presenters and the artists and they’re starting to call us,” he says. “It’s nice that when bands are planning these international tours, London […] is one of the stops that people are considering now.”
“Bands like The Necks usually have to rely on a larger urban centre to find enough people who are interested in that type of music to come out,” he continues. “That’s one of the things we’re proud of at LOLA — that we’re developing an audience for adventurous musical experiences.”
But don’t think you have to be a music connoisseur or a huge jazz fan to enjoy the unusual stylings of The Necks.
“Jazz is only part of what we do, and I don’t think it’s necessary to have gotten on top of that particular music in order to appreciate ours,” says bassist Lloyd Swanton.
“I think one thing that makes our music [comparative] is that we work with very simple material,” he explains. “We set up some sort of mood or texture or groove, and because the respective elements are generally pretty discernible, even a listener with no knowledge of the genre can hear something’s happened — they can follow the twists and turns of our pieces fairly easily.”
The Necks are also known for their improvisation on stage, and some of their pieces are up to an hour long. Despite playing together for such a long time, maintaining a level of freedom on stage is important to the band.
“Obviously, after being together for 22 years, we sometimes slip into familiar territory,” Swanton says. “It’s impossible to re-invent the wheel every show, but each one of us would feel we were letting the other side down if we start ploughing too-familiar terrain.”
The opening artists for the LOLA series show are from a bit closer to home. Todor Kobakov, a Toronto composer-producer-musician, has training in classical piano but his current music is alternative and is influenced by pop.
“I consider him a virtuoso,” Walde says. “He plays beautifully but is also creating beautiful compositions. It’s quite romantic, quite beautiful and ethereal type music.”
Transmorphous Sound Ensemble comprises Chris Meloche and Richard Moule, both CHRW radio hosts, and will perform first
“People don’t always know what they’re going to get at a LOLA concert, because there’s always an eclectic range of things,” Walde says. “But I think they recognize that it’s always going to be quality.”
The first LOLA concert series of the year takes place at Museum London on Fri. Jan 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door, or purchase them in advance at Grooves or at www.lolafest.com under “music” for $15.