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Nels Cline Singers: The Giant Pin

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The Nels Cline Singers’ The Giant Pin follows 2002’s Instrumentals and ought to sew up the sterling reputation of this genre-defying group (in which, by the way, no one sings). L.A.-based guitarist Cline has worked with everyone from Julius Hemphill to the Blue Man Group, and he recently joined the indie-rock powerhouse and critics’ fave Wilco. Cline’s liner notes (and Web site, nelscline.com) show him to be a hugely entertaining writer, and it’s hard to resist quoting his own description of this music: “spidery jazzoid invention, monolithic psych-rock bludgeon, balladry, icy space reverberations, and related joy/tra ma.”

Cline’s music is resolutely left of the dial, a challenge. But its dynamics, rhythmic intensity and frequently searing melodicism are a joy. It’s easy to imagine listeners of many stripes cottoning to his sound. (Might he lure Wilco fans toward far-out jazz?) Scott Amendola (drums/electronics) and Devin Hoff (double bass) effortlessly blend rock-band grit with jazz-trio virtuosity. Jon Brion plays miscellaneous instruments on two cuts, and Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier adds a subtle wordless vocal on one. Violinist and Crypto labelmate Jeff Gauthier did a commendable job as producer.

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