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[Off The Record]
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Nels Cline

Nels Cline is best known to rock fans as the dynamic six-string ace in the Geraldine Fibbers, but heís also one of the instrumentís leading avant-gardists. The LA-based guitarist works from a command of technique and unfettered imagination, as these nine tracks attest. Most have an improvisational feel, yet they donít scrimp on melody. In fact, Cline often makes melody his foundation, building a loop from a spare little tune, as he does in " Friends of Snowman, " then laying down rich, arpeggiated chords and trinkling, chime tones in a search for spontaneous beauty.

He finds it more often than not, whether heís the sole melodic voice, as on the dark, loop-based " The Ringing Hand, " which grows into a circular pattern of ebbing and swirling sound that draws on jazzy intervals and pure textural overlays, or sharing duties with guests who include guitarists Carla Bozulich, Woodward Lee Alanalp, and C.E. Stinson and Boston Museum School sound-art instructor/electric-harpist Zeena Parkins. The best of these collaborations change personality as they evolve ó like the aptly titled " Progression, " which builds as Stinson butters on slide and Bozulich uses vocalizer for a dirty, sustained, theremin-like wail that etches a wall of tension. And Clineís playing, whether heís delivering rock scream íní grind, as he does at the climax of " Martyr, " or making a merry clatter in the opening " Spider Wisdom, " always abounds with humor, energy, and emotional depth. Which gives this challenging album a strong heart.


Issue Date: November 8 - 15, 2001

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