Artist: Nels Cline
Title: “Destroy All Nels Cline”
Many know Nels Cline as the thin, towering, dexterous guitarist in Wilco, so I came to “Destroy All Nels Cline” appreciative of his skills, but holy unprepared for this, an improvisational affair that amounts to free jazz with guitars.
The free jazz approach shouldn’t be surprising. Cline is a man who did a song-for-song cover of John Coltrane’s “Interstellar Space,” an experimental affair of another kind.
Cline is one of four guitar players on every track. The ideas and phrases in “Spider Wisdom” have an attention span the size of a gnat, lurching from one chaotic guitar flutter to the next in quick blasts.
The longest piece is “As in Life,” a five-part suite just shy of 15 minutes in tribute to late jazz pianist Horace Tapscott. It covers a spectrum of emotion, building to a blistering finale.
That’s what makes “Destroy All Nels Cline” worthy of repeated listens. Despite a concerted effort to make this scatterbrained, there is an underlying humanity that makes it enduring.
That said, the average Wilco fan will want a safety belt to make this trip.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.