Chris Abrahams is best known for his work with The Necks – their most recent album, Open, was my album of the year for 2013; or at least one of my albums of what was an amazing year of music. But Abrahams also has a solo career – and in the past he’s played everything from straight jazz and soundtrack work to sessions and live dates with the likes of Midnight Oil.
Latest album Memory Night follows on from his previous solo outings, cutting a path – instantly – for the sinister within musique concrete, a whole new approach to the piano and the placement of it when compared with the jazz-referencing interplay and deep minimalism that is The Necks’ forte.
Here there are guitar noises and percussion blasts, there are found sounds from tape hiss and bowed sheet metal through to bell chimes.
If you imagined Nils Frahm and Brian Eno working together to interpret the recent albums of Scott Walker as instrumental soundscapes you’d have some idea of the deeply immersive transgressive horror world of evil/hypnotic soundtrack that Abrahams is burrowing himself and the listeners down into.
Oh, and I should say that this is just for the first track, Leafer.
Memory Night is four long pieces, the shortest – and most (instantly) accessible – is the closing track, Stabilized Ruin; the calm after the storm. At just under seven minutes it feels like Radiohead’s Kid A sonic being played out as post-apocalyptic cocktail jazz.
It arrives after Bone And Teem torments with its crepuscular movement and Strange Bright Fact feels like an audible irritation – a sound installation designed to make the skin crawl.
Of course this is all wonderful and frightening, often in equal measures. And there’s no chance – not ever – that this is for everyone. And that’s a big part of what makes it so special.