Nels Cline Singers – Macroscope

In the digital world, when you go and search for the term ‘Nels Cline’ on Spotify or iTunes, you get a big list of ‘artists’ named Nels Cline. It can be just ‘Nels Cline’ or Nels Cline Trio or The Nels Cline Singers, Nels Cline & Devin Sarno or with Wally Shoup and Greg Campbell and so on. I’m missing the term ‘Wilco, with the amazing Nels Cline but I guess that won’t happen.

Through all these shapes and forms, guitarist Nels Cline constantly explores himself and the music achieved by collaborating with other fine musicians (this blog alone covered his music several times before).  Each ensemble is unique and exciting, like watching the Experience turns to Gypsys turns to 4-5-6 other bands, each of them makes the guitarist into a different sort of monster. Yet, he remains a monster.

The new album with the Nels Cline Singers, titled Macroscope is one of his finest albums that I’ve had the pleasure to listen to.

Macroscope sounds like a blend of compositions and sounds from all his other ‘bands’, put together in one killer band. There are the jazzy elements of course, and his Hendrix meets Mclaughlin licks, but they are all augmented with the his secret recipe that blends rock, psychedelia flavors, sometimes Latin, and prog.

“The title MACROSCOPE speaks to the idea of the mutt within,” Cline says, “the fact that I’m not in any one genre, and never have been. I was a rock and roll kid, but after hearing Coltrane and Miles and Weather Report, then Indian music and Nigerian pop and that sort of thing, there was no turning back. From that point on, the idea of purism just was not possible.”

I’ve been listening to this album constantly over the last month and I find myself each time just stunned by the complexity and diversity of arrangements – though this album is the easiest to digest from all the albums that I’ve heard by NC. The tracks are not even that long, most of them are kind radio friendly in terms of lengths.

The longer pieces, like Seven Zed Heaven are the stars of the album for me, this is where guitar mantras can be chanted, ideas can be fully explored and themes can be memorized.

And you know what? It strikes me now – if it was made in the seventies, this album would have been the most amazing album that Matching Mole never released, and this is, for me, the highest rank an album can get.

**See also: Nels talks about the influence of Miles Davis and John Mcglughlin

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