Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Nels Cline Singers - "Initiate"

The incredible guitarist Nels Cline who is well known for his role in Wilco and has played for Mike Watt and the Geraldine Fibbers among others, has always been entrenched in his own band the Nels Cline Singers, where he can be as experimentally stunning as he wants to be. Initiate is their latest album, a double-album including a studio disc and a live disc. The Nels Cline Singers create vivid soundscapes in High Definition that range everywhere from jazz, rock and Brazilian influences to Afrobeat and electronica, like a musical encyclopedia.

The studio disc includes 13 tracks and over an hour of new music with many standouts like, the raw, unhinged guitar freak-out on “Floored” which is anchored by Scott Amendola’s pounding drums and Devin Hoff’s funky bass groove. The glistening ambience of “You Noticed” includes an expressive contrabass solo. “King Queen” turns into a raging duel between Nels’ soaring guitar solo and guest organist David Witham’s Santana-fueled fire. And “Divining” contains a first for the band: vocals, albeit wordless, and mbira with hushed guitar for a nice contrast to the fiery performances found elsewhere on the album.

The live disc was recorded in September of 2009 in San Francisco and is the band’s first live release. In addition to live favorites from their previous releases the set contains 2 new songs and 2 cover songs. The two new songs are “Forge” which opens the album churning quietly, building ominously to a climax of the opposite extreme. And “Raze” is probably their heaviest song to date with distorted chugging and otherworldly guitar squelching. One of the two covers they chose to interpret is the inward and soulful “And Now The Queen” a rare track by Carla Bley. The other is the Weather Report classic “Boogie Woogie Waltz”. Nels’ passionate guitar takes the place of and pays homage to the late Joe Zawinul’s distinctive keyboard stylings, which closes the set with a funky 14-minute jam, that also features percussion provided by Greg, Satomi, and John of Deerhoof.

This is music for music lovers by music lovers. Seek this one out and enjoy!

Download "Floored" here:

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