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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Epiphyllum 4:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Prayer Wheel 5:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Thurston County 7:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. The Androgyne 3:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Rod Poole's Gradual Ascent To Heaven18:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. The Divine Homegirl 4:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. X Change(s) 4:20$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. The Nomad's Home 3:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Onan Suite - Amniotica 2:48$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Onan Suite - Lord & Lady 5:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Onan Suite - Dreams in the Mirror 1:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Onan Suite - Interruption 1:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. Onan Suite - Seedcaster 3:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. Onan Suite - The Liberator 3:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen15. Cymbidium 3:51$0.99  Buy MP3 

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Nels Cline & Julian Lage

Nels Cline is a major force as a guitarist and improviser, ever since he debuted on record in 1978 and as a leader in 1988. Named by Rolling Stone as one of 20 “new guitar gods” and one of the top 100 guitarists of all time, Cline has gained his widest fame as a member of acclaimed rock band Wilco since 2004. He’s known for a certain ... Read more in Amazon's Nels Cline Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 10, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Cryptogramophone
  • ASIN: B001NOMO5Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,184 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, recently named a "Guitar God" by Rolling Stone, presents a brilliant solo CD on which he plays all the instruments. Covering an extraordinarily broad range of musical styles, this CD has a luscious acoustic feel, yet features a wide array of Nels' wild electronic sounds. The title Coward is misleading as this intensely personal album exhibits a fearless musicianship and a willingness to take musical and emotional risks. Coward blends improvisation and composition with a huge and constantly changing sonic palette. Coward is a musical tour de force.


Pivotal question for today's multistylistic musician: How do you keep versatility from turning into superficial eclecticism? Nels Cline long ago proved his versatility--look what a galvanizing effect his presence has had in the group Wilco, remarkable when compared with his other music from pop session work, jazz (including John Coltrane covers) and free improvisation to noise and his hard-to-describe band Nels Cline Singers. In his gibbon swings from one genre to another, and in the process of blending them together, Cline retains his center of gravity. Perhaps that's because he has a bealthy sense of humility and a funny bone--refreshing, given that with chops like his he could justify being a self-righteous, self-serious creep.

But the good humor--coupled with great taste--keeps Cline in check. On Coward, the centrifugal force of the guitarist's many interests never seems haphazard or unmotivated. There's a bit more ECM to the overall mix than I might have expected, evoking Ralph Towner and Egberto Gismonti in their halcyon days; unlike ECM, though, the sound is never unnecessarily bathed in reverb. Cline doubles acoustic guitar notes with multitracked "autoharp/zither things" on the epic 18-and-a-half minutes of "Rod Poole's Gradual Ascent To Heaven," producing a density of string textures and shimmering just-off-pitch harmonies pierced by brilliant single-note runs. With her recent string fixation, PJ Harvey should consider deploying Cline.

Some pieces, like the slide-intensive "The Nomad's Home," have a more song-like organization. Elswhere, there are more ambient, droning excursions, including the bookends that open and end the disc ("Epiphyllum" and "Cymbidium"), while the episodic "Onan Suite;" (there's the self-deprecating sense of humor) sports some vent-like, thwacking noise passages, mixed with radiant strumming and '60s psych and progressive rock (Pink Floyd looms large in the dreadnought chording), and a hilarious, ripping finale that begs to be heard. On the post-Branca electric romp "Thurston County," Cline nods at Thurston Moore with chiming strums beyond the nut, crystalline slide and a great anthemic jam that might be the bed for a vintage Sonic Youth song. -John Corbett --Downbeat

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Etan Rosenbloom on February 10, 2009
Format: Audio CD
There's little in the way of technique or style on Coward that we haven't already heard from Nels Cline, but never before has he collected such a variety of questing guitar exploration in one place. He does the electric drone thing, the detuned rock instrumental thing, the lyrical acoustic thing, the cut `n paste improvised bramble thing. Cline's improvisation is typically fascinating, but he's at his best here on extended compositions like "Rod Poole's Gradual Ascent to Heaven," a complex, difficult work dedicated to the complex, difficult microtonal guitarist Rod Poole, who was killed in 2007. Also important: this record represents Cline's first true solo outing. Coward is Cline in the most introspective and unfiltered of settings - one man alone with his vision, a whole crapload of different instruments and pedals, no collaborators, just overdubs. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Cryptogramophone's typically gorgeous packaging. This one's essential for Cline-o-philes and anyone interested in envelope-pushing guitar music.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Pharoah S. Wail VINE VOICE on February 21, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Introspective and spacious (but not spacey), Nels Cline's Coward at times seems to pull from nearly everything he's done previously, while also perhaps pointing to some of the places he'll take us in the future.

At one point, we get the most north Indian thing he's done since the jugalbandi alap section of The Red Headed Stranger. Whether you come at Hindustani slide guitar more from the Vishwa Mohan Bhatt perspective, or my preferences, Debashish Bhattacharya (Debashish Bhattacharya and Raga Saraswati / Mishra Kafi / Mishra Pahadi) and Brijbhushan Kabra (Call of the Valley), Nels plays a rippling acoustic solo that seems to be on a Dobro rather than the Hindustanified guitars of Bhatt, Bhattacharya or Bob Brozman.

What about Coward works so well? Though it largely feels like 2 long pieces of music, there are vignettes within the 2 wholes with such distinct personalities that it makes for a beautiful, sprawling journey. Track 7 is some of the best Derek Bailey-inspired music since Wireforks: Guitar Duets (Sidenote: The review on that page was written by me before I had this account! Back when you could review without having a login name. That may be the first review I ever wrote.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Curious Skeptic on July 10, 2009
Format: Audio CD
God I love this recording!! There are loads of good guitarists out there, loads of talent, but few have the creativity and integrity of this man. Go Nels Go!! This record will certainly not sell well, which only further underscores the integrity. But its wonderful (but also challenging) guitar music. Bring it on
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
A wonderful experimental composer/guitarist. On this recording only, some similarity to Ralph Towner but updated and made his own. Highly recommended. A good first recording to try by Cline. It gets more electric and experimental on the other recordings - which I love but may be a too far out on first listen for others. After this, get the Medeski, Martin, Wood and Cline Woodstock Sessions, Vol. 2 to hear what he can do in a full out improvisational band context.
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