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Destroy All Nels Cline

Rate It! Avg: 4.5 (31 ratings)
Destroy All Nels Cline album cover
Spider Wisdom
Chi Cacoan
Ringing Hand
Talk of Chocolate Bed
After Armenia
As in Life [5 Moments]: Carlion Call/Prenatal/Sidewalk University/Can't
Friends of Snowman
Album Information

Total Tracks: 9   Total Length: 75:45

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Thoroughly worthwhile


As someone whole listens to a lot of contemporary 'classical', came through a lot of free jazz and improv and has an atavistic passion for electric guitar, this set pressed a lot of buttons. There is clearly a composed element. The playing is excellent both there and in the more improvised sections and as well as sections of Free Jazz sometimes you could almost be listening to Sonic Youth ... but when you are Cline has a wider palette at his disposal for the next piece or section. Try 'As In Life' for a good value sample ... and then hopefully you'll want the rest.

eMusic Features


Interview: Jenny Scheinman and Nels Cline

By Dan Ouellette, Contributor

Fresh from a slot performing songs at Relix magazine, violinist, songwriter and bandleader Jenny Scheinman and her Mischief & Mayhem bandmate guitarist Nels Cline are settled into the living room of her uncle's West Village apartment. It's the night before the duo (along with bassist Todd Sickafoose and drummer Jim Black) will unleash the whimsical and powerful music from its eponymous album at the Village's (Le) Poisson Rouge in what will probably be its last… more »

They Say All Music Guide

In which the lanky longtime axe hero of Los Angeles’ creative music scene seeks to “explore the possibilities of many stringed instruments and their timbres…and to create a climate of catharsis.” Oh yeah, and get his noise improv rocks off in the guitar army company of close compadres Woodward Lee Aplanalp, Carla Bozulich, and G.E. Stinson. So the relevant consumer warning is for anyone (like maybe Bozulich fans expecting some traces of the Geraldine Fibbers) who find torrential maelstroms of guitar noise anathema to steer clear — it’s dense pack time here with four guitars, rhythm section, and occasional guests Zeena Parkins and Wayne Peet.
There’s no easy entry, because “Spider Wisdom” leaps right in with abstract swatches of guitar effects — the sonic treatments come creeping and crawling at you from all sides of the web. Cline’s pieces rarely stay in one vein, so “Chicagoan” boasts stated themes before locking into a foundation riff with a space bloop effects solo by Aplanalp that resolves into a holocaust, followed by a very direct Cline solo over that almost vintage jazz-rock fusion riff.
The stately “Progression” waxes melancholy, “The Ringing Hand” is an extended display of Cline’s lyrical side, and “Friends of Snowman,” a dreamy, crystalline dynamics downshift that evokes the sound of snowflakes falling. The main theme to “Talk of a Chocolate Bed” isn’t the only one with tinges of Captain Beefheart instrumentals before heading off into the uncharted feedback squalls and sonic squiggle zones again. “After Armenia” is a moody, kinda Popol Vuh soundtrack for guitar noises before an organic phase shift into tumultuous sound sculpting, and the tormented, portentous “Big Theme” might make a perfect soundtrack for a short avant-garde film with its closing triumphal surge.
The most cohesive and accessible track is “As in Life,” a five-part piece dedicated to late L.A. jazz piano master Horace Tapscott, an early Cline influence and mentor. “Clarion Call” aims for spiritual uplift a lá Tapscott or John Coltrane, via repeating circular guitar riffs that move to a lyrical Cline solo in “Sidewalk University,” and escalates in intensity before closing out with a reprise of the “Clarion Call” riffing to signify the spirit force ascending.
You won’t hear Nels Cline individually to his best advantage here because the music is so dense and detail-packed it’s hard to tell the soloists and the players apart. Which just may be the reason he wanted to do the project and name the disc Destroy All Nels Cline — to escape from any personality focus, and get back to collective music making. It’s tough stuff, but if you like seriously electric guitar improvisation and/or Sonic Youth and their ilk’s more experimental forays, there are plenty of rewards here. – Don Snowden

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