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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nels Cline - Coward (Crypogramophone, 2009) ****½

Solo guitar may be a little bit a stretched description for this album, even if Nels Cline only plays guitar and electronics, but the latter make it of course possible to create drum sounds, bass sounds and the like. Nevertheless, it is a solo album, and the guitar features without a doubt as the lead instrument. And how! Nels Cline is a technically gifted and very versatile musician. But he is a musician in the first place, not a tune-smith, neither a circus guitarist. He creates musical environments, full of surprising effects, some quite simple, without too much of the technical stuff, others more complex, built with layers and layers of sound, totally disregarding styles and genres. The end result is staggeringly beautiful. It is not jazz, it is a musical journey through stylistic possibilities, mixing slide guitar with Indian raga, Pink Floyd with Eno, Sonic Youth with Larry Coryell, throwing in lots of ambient sounds and electronics, while magically keeping the entire album a very coherent tour-de-force. Giving all these references doesn't even do sufficient credit to the album's creativity and innovative power. It's not jazz, but it's magnificent. Something to be heard by all music lovers.

Listen to samples of four tracks joined into one, just to give you an idea of the scope of the album.

Listen and download from eMusic.

(Pink Floyd? Eno? ... I must be getting very old ...)

© stef