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April 2010 Archives

April 1, 2010

THE NELS CLINE SINGERS: An Oral History (1 of 4)

Having just celebrated our 10th anniversary here at the Crypto Nerve Center, we have another milestone upon us: The Nels Cline Singers are also reaching their first decade (and four albums’ worth) of delicate lyricism, groove-laden fuzz-funk workouts and face-melting sonic deviance – all without any discernible singing.

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Since joining the critically lauded rock group Wilco in 2004, Nels Cline has emerged in recent years as one of the most respected, argued-over and unclassifiable musicians active today – memorably described by Jazz Times as “the world’s most dangerous guitarist” and by bestselling author David Carr (Night of the Gun) as "one of the best in any genre.” Ironically, Cline formed the Singers in 2001 not entirely on his own accord but at the urging of versatile percussionist Scott Amendola, a New Jersey-born Black Sabbath and Ornette Coleman acolyte who had gained prominence in San Francisco's heady, dot com-era music scene of the early 90s though his collaborations with guitarist Charlie Hunter and saxophonist Phillip Greenlief.

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Buy these...you will buuuuuy these...

It was Greenlief who introduced Cline to Amendola, who then brought in Colorado native Devin Hoff, a young contrabassist equally at ease with Norwegian Black Metal as he was with improvised skronkitude. What emerged was a impeccably pedigreed and potently eclectic band of three successive generations of vanguard virtuosos whose buzz has only grown with each subsequent release – Instrumentals (2002), The Giant Pin (2004), Draw Breath (2007) and their new world music-influenced double-CD Initiate (2010), which Tim Niland of Music and More recently called “a fascinating and thrilling journey.”

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With the release of Initiate on APRIL 13, we at the Beast thought we’d forgo the usual promo interviews (although don’t get us wrong -- we did those, too) and instead pay homage to all the dogged and loyal scribes -- famous, infamous and anonymous – who have provided us with ten years of solid and devoted journalism, opinions, rants, interviews, whining and live reviews on the NCS. Coupled with brand spankin’ new interviews with Nels, Scott and Devin, we have fashioned a musical journey of three accomplished and twisted April fools using the “found voices” of the past decade. Enjoy!

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April 7, 2010

THE NELS CLINE SINGERS: An Oral History (2 of 4)

PART II: “I CHANGED MY STRINGS IN SHAME” (2001-2004)

NELS CLINE: “I knew I wanted an upright bassist in the new trio.”
(Interview, 3/05/10)

DEVIN HOFF: “I’m an anarchist, so my motto would be: ‘Everything for Everyone.’”
(Interview, 3/11/10)

SCOTT AMENDOLA: “Actually, I knew Devin before I knew Nels.”
(Interview, 3/12/10)

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Devin! Hoff! [photo via Downtown Music]

DEVIN: “I grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado, which was a farm town before it became a college town. It’s smack dab between Boulder and Cheyenne [Wyoming], and kind of culturally reflects that geography: A lotta rednecks and a lotta hippies! So as a kid you kind of grow up in that mix. There’s some urban influence and some rural influence, but it’s not quite either. It’s kind of confusing.” (Interview, 3/11/10)

DEVIN: “My dad [guitarist Bard Hoff] is a musician and my mom’s father was a farmer and a semi-professional country-western musician. My mom is a rocker, so I probably absorbed Led Zeppelin and the Small Faces in utero…so it was almost a no-brainer what I would end up doing for a living: the family business!...My dad knew a lot of musicians from the Denver scene…like Hugh Regan, who’s worked with Roscoe Mitchell, and David Murray. They would come over to my house a couple times a week when I was little…and play Charlie Parker and Anthony Braxton and Albert Ayler. It fucks with your ears at an early age. I grew up hearing that stuff as normal.” (Interview, 3/11/10)

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April 13, 2010

THE NELS CLINE SINGERS: An Oral History (3 of 4)

PART III: “INTO IT” (2004-2007)

In early 2004, the Singers add a new word to their already-expansive vocabulary:

wil•co \ˈwil-(ˌ)kō\
interj [will comply] (ca. 1938) – used especially in radio and signaling to indicate that a message received will be complied with
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

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Wilco lineup circa 2003. From Left: Leroy Bach, Glenn Kotche, The Tweedman, John Stirratt

NELS CLINE: I met Jeff Tweedy in 1996 when The Geraldine Fibbers opened for Golden Smog (a "fun" side project made up of members of The Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, Run Westy Run, et al). The Fibbers really cottoned to Mr. Tweedy, seeming to single him out as "special". I'm rather chagrined to say that I didn't really notice him any more than the other fellows… (nelscline.com)

PAT SANSONE (Wilco guitarist/keyboardist): "Ah, Nels. I first met Nels about twelve years ago at South By Southwest when he was playing with the Geraldine Fibbers...We had a long, intense and deep conversation that really touched me -- and he has no recollection of it whatsoever." (from Wilco: Ashes of American Flags DVD)

Cline has been making records since Wilco's leader Jeff Tweedy was in grade school.
(Bill Moyer, Chicago Tribune, 11/09/04)

“I just joined Wilco!”
(Nels Cline to this blogger, 3/04)

Holy crap, dudes. Nels Cline is going to be playing live with Wilco "for the foreseeable future." Are you excited as me? You should be. (post on Done Waiting bulletin board, 3/04/04)

NELS: Carla Bozulich – (Fibbers leader) stayed in touch with Jeff, and when we would play Chicago, Jeff would come to the gigs and/or lend me gear…What a generous and friendly sort he seemed! Little did I realize that he was kind of keeping tabs on me. (nelscline.com)

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April 19, 2010

Initial Initiate Intel In!

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Indubitably...

'INTENSELY FUNKY": All About Jazz
"SANDINISTA!": All About Jazz
"YIN AND YANG": Audiophile Audition
"INHIBITION AT THE DOOR": Boston Globe
"WON'T INDUCE SLEEP": The Daily Athenaeum
"INTRICATE CONTRAPUNTAL MANEUVERS": Dusted
"IN TRUE NELS FASHION": Greenleaf Music
"INTERIOR MONOLOGUES AT A FRANTIC PACE": Jambands
"UNPREDICTABLE SHIFTS IN VOLUME": JazzTimes
"INSISTENT MELODY": L.A. Times Pop & Hiss
"WINGIN' IT": MetalJazz
"INNOVATING": Music and More
"MULTIFARIOUSNESS OF INTERESTS": The National
"INSPIRING": NPR’s First Listen
"PURE, UNFETTERED INSANITY": Paste
"INTUITIVE INTERPLAY": Pitchfork Media
"INADVERTENTLY CREATING A BLACK HOLE": Pop Matters
"AN INTIMATE GLIMPSE": Prefix
"IN ANOTHER UNIVERSE ENTIRELY": Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"MORE SUNLIGHT IN IT": Spinner

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Check back with us tommorrow, when we'll conclude our 4-part oral history of the Nels Cline Singers -- including informative info on the making of Initiate!

REST IN TEMPO
James Brody
Devin Clifford
Keith "Guru" Elam
Charlie Gillett
Franz Kamin
Gene Lees
Malcolm McLaren
Graciela Grillo-Perez
Steve Reid
Alan Rich
Peter Steele
Luigi Waites
William Walker

April 20, 2010

THE NELS CLINE SINGERS: An Oral History (4 of 4)

PART LAST: “WE WILL ENDEAVOR TO SWING” (2007-Now)

February 2007: Nels Cline is voted the #4 “New Guitar God” by Jann Wenner’s struggling indie ‘zine Rolling Stone:

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THE AVANT-ROMANTIC
For many rock-guitar fiends, the oldest guitarist on this list is actually the newest. Before joining Wilco in 2004, in time to tour behind A Ghost is Born, Cline -- born in Los Angeles in 1956 -- was a highly regarded figure in jazz and avant-rock circles, a sonically aggressive guitarist who played with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, the art-country band the Geraldine Fibbers and his own searing instrumental groups. Now Cline agitates the bent-pop designs in Wilco's recent music with strafing feedback, zigzagging distortion and, when you least expect it, a striking, scarred romanticism. (David Fricke, Rolling Stone, 2/22/07)

Nels immediately begins concocting self-effacing and embarrassed responses.

“The guitar (god) thing…whatever.”
(Nels, Cincinatti Citybeat, 6/10/09)

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[Photo by Beth Herzhaft]

…A guitar “demon” is more like it.
(Blogcritics.com, 7/16/07)

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Adam Rudolph Alex Cline's Band of the Moment Alex Cline; Nels Cline: Alex & Nels Cline; Downbeat; Continuation; Coward Alma Lisa Fernandez Andrew Hill Angel City Jazz Festival 2009 Angel City Jazz Festival 2009 Live Review (Day 1) Angel City Jazz Festival 2009 Live Review (Day 2) Angel City Jazz Festival 2009 Photos Antonio Sanchez avant-garde Bard Hoff Ben Goldberg Bennie Maupin Bennie Maupin & Dolphyana Bill Stewart Billy Childs Jazz-Chamber Ensemble Billy Corgan Billy Hart Black Metal Bob Sheppard Bobby English Brent Hoff California Jazz Foundation Cameron Graves Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band Carla Bozulich Carol Robbins Charles Mingus; Son of Watts Musical Caravan Project; Azar Lawrence; Nate Morgan; Henry Franklin; Alphonse Mouzon; Prayer for My Ancestors Charles Owens Charlie Hunter Chops: The Movie Chris Barton Cryptogramophone Cryptogramophone Records Cryptogramophonr Records Cryptonight Darek Oles Dave Douglas Brass Ecstasy David Anderson Pianos David Breskin David Witham Denman Maroney Dennis Callaci Devin Hoff Dirty Baby Double M Jazz Salon Downbeat 57th Annual Critics Poll draw breath Dwight Trible Eagle Rock Center for the Arts Eclipse Quartet Ed Ruscha Edward Vesala Electric Lodge Eric Dolphy Eric Von Essen First Friday Series at the Museum of Neon Art G.E. Stinson Geraldine Fibbers Glenn Kotche Global Village Monday with Maggie LePique Go: Organic Orchestra Gravitas Quartet Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival; Peter Erskine Greg Kot Gregg Bendian Guy Klucevsek Hale Smith Hannah Rothschild Hans Fjellstad Harry Partch; L.A. Weekly; John Schneider; REDCAT Henry Grimes Horace Tapscott Horace Tapscott; Horace Tapscott Tribute Concert; Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra; the Ark; Jazz Bakery; Ruth Price; Jesse Sharps; Austin Peralta; Isaac Smith Howard Roberts Huffington Post Hugh Hopper Ikeda Kings Orchestra improvisation Initiate Instrumentals Ivan Cotton James Newton Jason Robinson Jay Bennett Jay Hoggard jazz Jazz at the Plgrimage Jazz Bakery Jazz Explosion III Jazz Journey with Eddie B. Jeff Gauthier Jeff Tweedy Jesse Sharps Jim Black Joe Zawinul John "Drumbo" French John Fumo Kamasi Washington Ken Coomer Ken Kawamura KJAZZ 88.1-FM KPFK 90.7-FM KXLU 88.9-FM L. Stinkbug Larry Goldings Larry Karush Larry Koonse Learning How To Die Leimert Park: The Roots and Branches of L.A. Jazz Les Paul Lester Bowie Lily Burk Memorial Live at the Atelier Los Angeles New Music Ensemble Los Angeles Times Luis Bonilla Maggie Parkins Marcus Rojas Mark Dresser Mark Linkous Mark Zaleski Matt Ritvo Matthew Duersten Mel Morris Michael Davis Michael Session Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Mimi Melnick Motoko Honda Museum of Neon Art Museum of Neon Art; MONA; Many Axes; Susan Rawcliffe; Scott Wilkinson; Brad Dutz music blog Myra Melford Nasheet Waits Natsuki Tamura Nels Cline Nels Cline Singers Nels Cline Singers with Jeff Parker Nestor Torres New Monastery Nick Rosen OC Creative Music Collective Oguri Open Gate Theatre Sunday Concert Series Pannonica Rothschild Peggy Lee Peter Bernstein Phil Ranelin Phillip Greenlief plays monk Rahmlee Michael Davis Rashied Ali ResBox at the Steve Allen Theater RIch Breen Rich Breen RISE with Mark Maxwell Roberto Miguel Miranda Roberto Miranda Rod Poole Ron MIles Ron Saint Germain Royal/T Cafe Ruth Price Sara Parkins Sara Schoenbeck Sarah Thornblade SASSAS Satoko Fujii Scott Amendola Scott Colley Shrimper Records Sky Saxon Tribute Sonship Theus Soul Jazz Records Sparklehorse Spirit Moves Spirits in the Sky Steuart Liebig Steven Isoardi Terry Riley The Gathering The Giant Pin The Jazz Bakery The Jazz Baroness The JazzCat with Leroy Downs The Nels Cline Singers The Nels Cline Trio Thelonious Monk Thomas Stones Tom McNalley Tony Allen Tribe Records Trilogy Van Morrison; Astral Weeks; Scott Foundas; Jan Steward; Music Cirle; SASSAS Vincent Chancey Wayne Horvitz Wayne Peet Wilco Wilco; Nels Cline Wilco; Wilco (The Album); Nels Cline Will Salmon Yankee Hotel Foxtrot