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Considering all the strings, you‘ve got to wonder why they don’t get in each other‘s way. Cline describes Stinson, Parkins and Bozulich as intuitive players who were allowed to roam freely. Since much of their playing fills an atmospheric role, collisions weren’t much of a worry. Cline got more structural with Mair and Aplanalp. “Woody and I discovered we had an instantaneous ability to play together,” Cline says of the day when the two first collaborated several years ago. Their trebly mesh, stretched across Mair‘s oaken beams, underlies a lot of this music.
Last year’s The Inkling (Cryptogramophone) is a much sparer quartet recording, but hardly lighter. It exudes an austere sensuality appropriate to its central work, “Alstromeria,” which is also the title of a Pablo Neruda poem that tells, says Cline, of “a flower that grows from desolation.” Most of the CD was recorded in just a few hours, thanks largely to harpist Parkins‘ rapport with Cline, her ability to focus, and a confluence of aesthetics -- “We have similar taste in effects pedals,” says Cline. The drummer is Billy Mintz, who’s essential, like air. The bassist, the phenomenal Mark Dresser, plucks a raggedly gutty solo or bows coarse overtones to support Cline, who strokes gentle plangencies like sharp Cheddar on apple pie, drips icicle droplets into cold water, opens a creaking metal door and swallows you dry. The music goes somewhere, every time.
Always in demand, Cline looks at his appointment schedule now and finds he‘s pretty much booked up for the rest of the year. He’s wrapped a bunch of records that haven‘t come out yet -- a live package including a CD with Parkins and Thurston Moore and one with Kim Gordon’s band; one with guitar extender Elliott Sharp; one an acoustic microtonal effort with guitarists Rod Poole and Jim McCauley. Though Cline says he‘s “a tourist when it comes to microtonal music,” he’s always liked playing between the notes.
As for the future, Cline says he‘d like to study Vietnamese and Korean music, build his own instruments, find new ways of creating. But despite his associations with “new” music, he catches on the word.
“I don’t believe in ‘new’ too much,” he says. “There‘s a world searching for novelty -- and what is that?”
Nels Cline plays as a member of Stinkbug, Wednesday, August 15; of Crater, Thursday, August. 16; and of the Scott Amendola Band, Friday-Saturday, August.17-18, all at Rocco.