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Chris Abrahams - Thrown

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Artist: Chris Abrahams

Album: Thrown

Label: Room40

Review date: Sep. 8, 2005

Chris Abrahams is probably best known for his work with Australian chamber jazz minimalists The Necks, a group noted for their expansive sounds that gradually unfurl to create hypnotic states, constructing from the simplest of building blocks monumental pathways to the sky. Aside from the Necks mothership, Abrahams finds time to compose film soundtracks and throw down enough guest performances to cement his reputation as one of his country’s most-in demand session musicians.

Thrown is Abrahams’ fifth solo album, and his debut for the increasingly interesting and diverse Room40 imprint. Together with his favoured piano, here he plays the positive organ (a medieval instrument which employs a set of bellows to pump air through pipes to create its sound) and the not-so arcane with the DX-7 (a mid-’80s digital synth). It is, at times, a pretty demanding body of work, especially considering its author is a man who once toured the world with 1980s antipodean pop provocateurs Midnight Oil. For every glistening piano movement, such as the tumbling aqueous arpeggios of “Remembrancer,” or the closing ivory framed moments of “Can of Faces,” there’s also a track like “Hung Door,” the ramshackle sound of a scared rat lost inside the belly of a dying Victorian pump organ or the aptly titled “Bellicose.” While the number of sounds and textures coaxed from his fairly limited arsenal is impressive, the average Necks’ fan may be left thirsting for more than just a clutch of unfinished sketches, ideas that still seem to be in their embryonic stages.

More full-bodied, however, is “Car Park Land,” a definite album highlight. Crystal decanter percussion accompanies air conditioning hum, before being joined by a delicious crop of fluttering notes that flow from Abrahams’ piano like the tide coming in on a butterfly’s wings. If only all of Thrown reached such great heights.

By Spencer Grady

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