Nels Cline Singers: Initiate

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Nels Cline Singers
LABELS: Initiate
WORKS: Initiate
PERFORMER: Nels Cline (guitars), Devin Hoff (bass), Scott Amendola (percusssion), and other musicians


The confusingly-named Singers (despite the occasional use of vocal textures, don’t expect an album of singing) have a wide stylistic range: the opening track on CD1 evokes classic-period Soft Machine, the second mid-’70s Miles Davis, then comes ‘Divining’, an elegant, almost pastoral piece of mainstream post-bop.

‘You Noticed’ might almost be a piece of Bill Frisell Americana. ‘Red Line To Greenland’ harks back to pioneer electronica/musique concrète. And so it goes. This listing of allusions should not be taken to suggest that Cline’s music is a derivative ragbag of influences, though.

Few bands essay such varied material with the Singers’ panache and conviction, producing such adventurous and satisfying music.


CD1 was recorded in the studio, CD2 captured live in San Francisco. Both sessions are equally exciting and immediate. The live set, which cleaves closer to a jazzers’ expectations, has the exceptional treat of Carla Bley’s beautiful, rarely-performed ‘And Now The Queen’. Barry Witherden