Thursday, May 01, 2014

Nels Cline Singers - Macroscope (Mack Avenue, 2014)

The Singers is one of many groups that guitarist Nels Cline in involved in, one that cascades through preconceived boundaries in music and develops their own unique system. The basic band consists of Cline on guitars, effects and voice, Trevor Dunn playing various basses and effects and Scott Amendola on drums and percussion, along with several guest musicians. “Companion Piece” opens the album in a slow and sparse manner with guitar and brushed percussion gradually building into sheets of scalding electric guitar and overpowering drums. Rock solid bass grounds “Canales' Cabeza” as fault lines crack and splinter with Nels’ guitar moving from a jazzier opening to envelop a three piece slash and burn, laying burning tracks in their wake. “Resperia” has clattering rhythmic percussion developing a nice groove with a little vocalizing setting the mood before they ring in the reverberation and gradually bring up the noise refracting and reflecting the music. “The Wedding Band” is one of the centerpieces of the album with funhouse electronic manipulation of the sound and great rhythm from the bass and drums. Thick and exciting music builds layer by layer, as smears of guitar navigate the music in three dimensions. Developing an XY&Z axis allows the music to move with geometric grace, before the final apocalyptic boost sends them into the cosmos. Strong stomping drums introduce “Climb Down” as laser beams of electric guitar evokes a science fiction battle scene from the far future with loops and swirls showing that nothing is as it seems. “Seven Zed Heaven” is another powerhouse with fast fusion playing moving into an ever increasing range of sounds. Nels’ guitar emerges from the maelstrom, rearing up like a movie monster. It is an exceptional performance and encapsulates all of the potential this amazing group has. I really liked the music on this album and the unpredictability and devil may care attitude of the musicians make the music all the more fascinating. The cinematic nature of the music gives even the freest of their music a sense of coherent narrative. Macroscope -

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