Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Album Review: The Nels Cline Singers- Macroscope

The Nels Cline Singers
*** out of *****
Free jazz and jamband influences run around with abandon on The Nels Cline Singers 5th album, Macroscope. The core of the group Cline, drummer Scott Amendola and bassist Trevor Dunn are augmented by Yuka C Honda on Keys, Zeena Parkins on electric harp with percussionists Josh Jones and Cyro Bapitista rounding things out.  

While there is no singing involved (there is moaning on the title track) the group does indeed bow to it's namesake as Clines guitar is the focal point of almost all the music here. A real mix of peaking jam exploration is felt on the opening "Companion Piece" as well as the "Canales' Cabeza". The group injects the avant-garde with some energy opening things up to sonic exploration.   

The rhythm work takes the forefront on the Latin tinged "Respira" while a crushing almost industrial fueled bass and kick drum dominate the scary-in-a-good-way "Climb Down". The longest outings find "The Wedding Band" exploring cosmic reaches via clicks and a swirling 6-string solo while "Seven Zed Heaven" feels more fusion 70's based moving along at over 10 minutes.

Things aren't all soaring space-scape of illuminating sound though, "Red Before Orange" slips into bland easy listening funk while the disk closing pairing of "Hairy Mother" with its blippy freakouts and "Sascha's Book of Frogs" both miss the mark more then they hit.  

The group seems to be primarily a creative rock band in the vein of the extremely exploratory passages of Phish and The Grateful Dead, more so then Mahavishnu Orchestra or Weather Report. The Nels Cline Singers do inhabit a space somewhere between fusion and rock making it accessible to more mainstream fans while still listenable for jazz lovers.    
We are not huge fans of Nels guitar work, but a few tracks here got us, the first half of the disk is really solid.
Support the band here, grab the album here and peep some video below. You can also hear the album version of this track streaming here:

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