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First Listen: The Nels Cline Singers, 'Initiate'

Nels Cline plays guitar with Wilco.

He's created a modern version of John Coltrane's Interstellar Space with a guitar and drums.

He has an Acoustic Guitar Trio, that plays microtonal improvisations.

He's played on more than 150 records.

I can say without hesitation that this guy is a rock guitar god.

Nels Cline never ceases to amaze me. On his latest record, by a group he's dubbed The Nels Cline Singers, the man just oozes talent. Initiate -- available here until its release on April 13 -- has beauty, plenty of mystery and lovable songs. All of it is the sort of journey in sound that makes this a remarkable and memorable collection.

There are two discs to Initiate: Disc one is about an hour long, and was recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, Calif. Disc two is a live recording from Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco, from September 2009. It's a little longer and rocks out a bit more at times. Neither are actually guitar rock records, so fans of Wilco should probably beware. The song structures don't go down the more predictable, well-traveled sonic roads.

But who needs predictable music? (There's already enough out there.) Thankfully Nels Cline, a dauntless and skillful musician, is able to take us to places other art forms can't.

By the way, there are no singers in The Nels Cline Singers.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.
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