Friday, May 02, 2014


"Nels Cline is one of a rare breed of guitarists who can move fluidly between jazz, improvised music and rock." - DownBeat

Taking in the full breadth of guitarist Nels Cline’s sonic sphere of influence has always required a particularly wide lens. Zoom out from his fret board-blistering mash-ups of abrasive rock and bleeding-edge jazz to encompass his decade-long role with inventive rock superstars Wilco, then pull back further to find space for his ventures into Brazilian rhythms, electronic drones, and all manner of madcap musical fusion. Macroscope, the fifth album and Mack Avenue debut by his adventurous trio The Nels Cline Singers, provides a measure of the long-running group’s staggering range.

Captivating and continually surprising, the album finds the instrumental trio with the slyly deceptive name veering in one off-kilter direction only to suddenly be overwhelmed by another drastic stylistic shift, often within the space of a single tune. Serrated psychedelia becomes consumed by soulful Brasiliana, blissed-out electronica overwhelmed by garage-rock skronk. Then there’s the wholly unexpected “Red Before Orange,” where a howling Hendrix-inspired solo suddenly erupts in the middle of a slick lounge-jazz number, Cline unleashing the inner George Benson that few of us expected he even had.

“The title Macroscope speaks to the idea of the mutt within,” Cline says, “the fact that I’m not in any one genre, and never have been. I was a rock and roll kid, but after hearing Coltrane and Miles and Weather Report, then Indian music and Nigerian pop and that sort of thing, there was no turning back. From that point on, the idea of purism just was not possible.”

Throughout the album, Cline says, the intention is to “arrive at a place that could be surprising or unexpected or maybe inevitable, but that is so compelling or all-consuming that we’re absorbed and can forget about all kinds of minutiae. I would like us to arrive at a point that has no boundaries, that’s totally amorphous. It’s like sunshine or mist, it’s everywhere and nowhere.”

One of the most inventive and original guitarists across a wide range of genres, Nels Cline has worked with members of Sonic Youth and Deerhoof as well as artists including Tim Berne, Charlie Haden, Julius Hemphill, Carla Bozulich, Mike Watt and The Geraldine Fibbers, and is the lead guitarist of Wilco.

~  Mack Avenue Records

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