My first encounter with the guitar of Nels Cline, was when I first heard one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard in a long time. It was a new song by Wilco called Impossible Germany. The year was 2007. That solo left me speechless, especially because I didn’t know Jeff Tweedy was such an amazing guitarist. Checking the booklet, I found out it wasn’t Jeff and that there’s a new Wilco member I don’t know. His name is Nels. And he played of the most amazing solos.
Later on that year, I found out that he has a solid body of work, with many albums in his past. I learned that the hard way, by having my jaw dropped to the floor by his masterpiece New Monastery, where he paid his tribute to the music of Andrew Hill. That album made me a Nels fan. I listened to many of his albums, and it wasn’t easy. His music is usually very demanding, as you might notice if you’ll listen to his collaboration Wally Shoup and Chris Corsano in their Strange Attractors Releases titled Immolation/Immersion.
He’s technically amazing, has a great soul, authenticity, passion, incredible verbal skill on the instrument, terrific arranger, terrific composer, and he’s my favorite jazz guitarists of the last couple of years. I love you Nels Cline.
Nels Cline/ Wally Shoup/ Chris Corsano – Lake Of Fire Memories
This year, he released a double album for Cryptogramophone, one of my fav experimental jazz labels and yesterday, half a year later, he releases his second album this year – Dirty Baby.
Now Dirty Baby is not REALLY a jazz album, it’s much more than that.
First, the story – it’s collaboration between Cline who wrote new music, to poet David Breskin‘s visionary recontextualization of Ed Ruscha‘s “Censor Strip” paintings.
I never heard of the latter two, but after reading about the project – I’m curious enough about them. Nels wrote more than an hour and a half of music, and had it packed in a double cd, two booklets with 66 of Ruscha’s paintings reproductions and another booklet with Nels’ liner notes and session photos. And I guess the photos are interesting if you take in consideration the wonderful musicians who played in the album, like Jon Brion, Scott Amendola and Devin Hoff from the Nels Cline Singers, Nels twin brother Alex and some more local musicians.
I can’t wait to hold that ultra delux spoiling package in my shaking hands, but until then, I can only relate to the music itself. I’m listening to the files sent to me by his PR, and I’m listening over and over again. I’m absorbing the chaotic mood, I’m allowing the fabulous music to carry me away. And it’s so beautiful.
So it’s not a jazz album. It’s the entire spectrum of color and sounds that is well put in a frame of an album. It moves from Kraut/Space Rock style in the first six tracks of the album (titled Dirty Baby I-VI) then it goes completely insane and the album functions as a vicious fusion point of ideas that somehow makes sense all together, each track is interesting and the listening to the entire album is an overwhelming experience.
He brings totally bizarre ideas (Do As Told Or Suffer), Blues elements (No Mercy) , noisy and stressful pieces (Agree to Our Terms or Prepare Yourself for a Blast Furnace) completely hideous (in a good way, that is) feedbacked guitar a-la Neil Young in Arc (You’re A Dead Man) Morricone (I Can’t Take It No More) and much much more. I can go on and one. Some of the tracks are less the a minute long and some are longer (three minutes), but you can find something interesting in each one of them.
Even the instruments are varied. You have pedal steel, banjo, ukulele, loops and electronics, bowed double bass, electric bass, trumpet piano, flutes and effects. So in every way you’d look at it – this album is a complete celebration of colors, sounds and sights.
It’s gonna take me weeks to understand this album, I have patient.