Nels Cline, Wally Shoup, and Chris Corsano
It’s all well and good that guitarist Nels Cline has found a steady day job in the ever morphing lineup of Wilco. His dulcet tones and fretwork are doing a great service to Mr. Tweedy’s songs, elevating the recorded and live versions to heights they might not have been able to achieve on their own. For my money, I prefer to hear Cline as he is presented here, spilling shrieks and squalls out of his amplifier, spinning amazingly melodic runs, and generally kicking up a hell of a free jazz dust storm.
On this project, Cline is collaborating with a pair of equally talented experimental music powerhouses. Saxophonist Wally Shoup has been a mainstay of the free jazz scene – especially in his native Seattle – since 1974, as a member of the band Project W and in collaboration with Thurston Moore and Toshi Makihara. Chris Corsano’s name is probably most recognizable for his work on Bjork’s latest album, but he can also be heard on works by Six Organs of Admittance and his own improvisational duo with sax player Paul Flaherty.
Putting these three equally strong forces together in one studio proves to be not a dangerous experiment, but a collaboration of pure genius, one that pulses with energy and often soars through the stratosphere during its more quiet sections. This is best exemplified with the album’s title track, which begins with Cline working over his fretboard with a run of low, bass-y notes. Shoup slowly appears in the picture, calmly inserting low blasts of sound, followed by a furious, Elvin Jones-like attack by Corsano. The three meld these approaches together for a good seven minutes, before smashing it into blunt shards of noise which they each pick at and slowly weld together into another fury of sound toward the song’s end. It’s an exhausting, but thrilling musical exercise that must be heard in its full 28-minute glory to achieve its full effect.
Other tracks, such as “Minus Mint” and “Ghost Bell Canto” breathe a little easier, with moments of empty space that are colored-in gently by the musicians, especially Cline who adds thick washes of hummingbird-like buzz to the songs.
This is dangerous and beautiful music that breathes and oozes out of the ones and zeros of the CD, pooling up in your brain pan and leaving marks that you will never be able to wash away.
Strange Attractors: www.strange-attractors.com