Nels Cline Singers: Macroscope

Album review
Nels Cline Singers: Macroscope

Nels Cline Singers


Label: Mack Avenue
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz

As lead guitarist of Wilco, Nels Cline helps liberate Jeff Tweedy’s inner skronkmeister. In his Singers, with drummer Scott Amendola and bassist Trevor Dunn, Cline works his sorcery amid fewer preset structures. Although he calls the ten pieces on Macroscope “songs,” any sense of verse and chorus is blurred by the emphasis on improvisation, the reliance on fragments as building blocks, and the abundant use of electronic effects by all members of the trio as well as guests Yuka Honda (electric piano and synthesizer) and Zeena Parkins (electric harp). And the only singing is Cline’s wordless vocalizing. Cline is the most multifaceted guitarist playing in any genre today. This is true of his gear—electric and acoustic six- and 12-string guitars, plus everything related to his “pedal geek” aesthetic, including loops, compression, overdrive, fuzz, echo, and delay—and his tone, which ranges from pristine picking and Wes Montgomery fluidity to hyperdrive runs and abstract distortion. All the above can be heard on Macroscope as it careens though pretty jazz melodies, spacy acid rock, speedy prog, thundering heavy metal, grinding industrial noise, and even Afro-Latin jungles thanks to polyrhythmic percussionists Cyro Baptista and Josh Jones, making it the fullest expression of Nels Cline’s genius to date.

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  • primary artist, Nels Cline Singers

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