Boomkat Product Review:
The Necks pianist returns with another great solo album for Room40, this time operating within a more far-reaching and diverse set of musical parameters than ever before. Play Scar is the work of an artist who's developed considerably since the label released 2006's Thrown, or his more recent collaboration with Mike Cooper, Oceanic Feeling. You'd never be able guess the sort of directions Abrahams was headed towards over the ensuing hour given the opening organ chords of 'There He Reclined'. There's something a bit Blackpool Empress Ballroom about this opening, but soon enough the swell of Wulitzer-like sounds grows to include loose strands of piano and guitar. After this almost post-rock first piece, Abrahams takes a turn towards more abstract sounds, lining up minimal high frequency glitches and dissonant piano phrases for 'Fly Them'. It's here that you can really appreciate Abrahams incredibly fluid technique for the first time - sounding at once fearlessly experimental and in complete command of his instrument. An elaborately edited collage piece, 'Twig Blown' is a real highlight of the album, cutting wildly through various concrete recordings while a lonesome piano part joins the dots with an occasional, stop-start melody. Representing a more drone-based sensibility, 'Bird And Wasps' stirs up a mighty and compelling electric hum, eventually exploding into clusters of reverberating static during the closing moments, while 'Jellycrown' fuses together a host of different elements for a single, magnificent composition; once again turning to the piano, Abrahams begins with lyrical, jazzy keyings before jarring organ repetitions fire up, accompanied by sustaining root tones and jostling background percussion. The record plays out with a more harmonious final piece, sounding like a dismantled band performance. Evaporated drums clash about oddly in the background while various electronic elements intertwine with guitar, joined by the occasional bass plunge and yet more beautiful keyboard work from this most versatile of musicians. Thanks to its manifold stylistic digressions and strange musical combinations, Play Scar is quite unique, and absolutely bristles with ideas. Recommended.