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Nels Cline Trio - Hold It Under A Faucet (7")

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Artist: Nels Cline Trio

Album: Hold It Under A Faucet (7")

Label: Ecstatic Yod

Review date: Sep. 5, 2002

Cline Aims For Sensory Overload

Two of guitarist Nels Cline’s recent records, Interstellar Space Revisited and Destroy All Nels Cline, showcase his considerable skills as a performer of free jazz and rock, respectively. But despite the clear stylistic differences between those two albums (the former features a far less strict approach to meter than the latter), they both aim to overload the listener’s senses with crazy noise. Interstellar Space Revisited’s weapons of choice are busy, tricky free rhythms and guitar distortion, while Destroy’s are knotty song structures and even more distortion.

Cline’s new 7”, Hold It Under A Faucet, was recorded in 1995 with bassist Bob Mair and drummer Michael Preussner. This record also aims for sensory overload, this time with jarring transitions (the sleeve notes list four songs here, but it sounds as if there are at least six or seven) and overdriven guitar growls. There are a few moments of free playing, but much of this record is in pounding rock mode, with thumping drums that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Glenn Branca album. Cline himself lists the Boredoms as an inspiration for many of these songs, and their influence is apparent in not only the songs’ squalling noise but also their surprising dynamic shifts.

Branca and the Boredoms are both masters of the sort of sensory overload Cline is aiming for, but both Branca and the Boredoms possess something that Cline lacks here: numbers. Branca’s symphonies get their power mostly from the fact that his works are driven by conflicting noises from at least a half dozen guitars. And the Boredoms’ Super AE sounds so chaotic not only because of Yamatsuka Eye’s absurdly flamboyant vocals, but also because the Boredoms had five musicians and weren’t afraid to use studio trickery to make their music sound even more jarring and wild.

Cline, on the other hand, has only the other two members of his trio backing him in what seems to be an overdub-free setting. Because he doesn’t have more musicians or Interstellar Space Revisited’s free approach to rhythm, Hold It Under A Faucet doesn’t sound as crazy as Cline probably wants it to. Which isn’t to say that it’s easy listening, or that there’s no reason to recommend it: Cline is always a joy to hear when he’s playing this bombastically, and the dramatic dynamic twists give the listener plenty of reasons to pay attention. But Hold It Under A Faucet doesn’t pack the visceral thrill of sensory overload that Interstellar Space Revisited or much of the output of Cline’s inspiration the Boredoms does.

By Charlie Wilmoth

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