Exposé Online banner

Nels Cline — Coward
(Cryptogramophone CG 141, 2009, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2010-07-01

Coward Cover artMake no mistake: Nels Cline is a modern guitar hero of high caliber. This recording begins with a looped drone reminiscent of Soft Machine before carefully exploring new channels. Cline gracefully drifts into Ralph Towner and Steve Tibbetts spatial terrain on “Prayer Wheel” and “Androgyne.” The former piece carries the stamp of Tibbetts’ ECM pastel twelve string moods while the former comes closer to Towner’s occasional introspection as does monster tracks “Rod Poole’s Ascent to Heaven.” The improviser’s ability to retain his own identity while leaning on the shoulders of guitar giants is a testament to his ability to weave new tapestry from old yarn. “The Onan” suite of pieces also presents an intuitive mesh between improvisational and Eastern influences that significantly differentiate this recording from any other in his wide catalog. Michael Hedges’ wide exotic technique can also be called out as an implied reference as well. Cline’s apparent tribute to Thurston Moore, “Thurston Country,” relies on the guitarist’s instinctive means to speed up, twist and turn his fretboard while carrying a shuddering melody to a natural conclusion. The end raga section is quite convincing as well. The Wilco six-slinger can also craft keen sensitive moments as heard on “The Divine Homegirl” and “The Nomad’s Home,” with its surreal slide part. Overall this is the most satisfying Nels Cline recording I have heard and welcome a set of live dates to back it up.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 38, 2009 releases

Related artist(s): Nels Cline

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ricochet - Zarah - A Teartown Story – Gradually over the last few years, with the help of Progrock Records distribution, Ricochet is gaining word-of-mouth momentum on the prog metal scene. From the outset the Hamburg band has all the...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues