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

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the ago of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

David Torn / Mick Karn / Terry Bozzio - Polytown – I've have to admit to seeing this trio live before listening to their disc. And while the recording does not quite capture the intensity and power of the show, it doesn't fall short either. Torn,...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues