NELS CLINE & JU­LIAN LAGE Room (Mack Av­enue)

Pasatiempo - - PASA TEMPOS - — Bill Kohlhaase

On this fine duo record­ing, Cline and Lage keep their sound clean and pre­dictable: no noisy elec­tronic ef­fects, no ter­ri­bly dis­so­nant chords or clash­ing acous­tics .

Gui­tarists Nels Cline and Ju­lian Lage aren’t an un­likely pair. The twenty-seven-year-old Lage is best known for his work with vi­bra­phon­ist Gary Bur­ton. Cline, a gen­er­a­tion older and an es­tab­lished en­sem­ble leader, has a tal­ent for col­lab­o­ra­tions, hav­ing recorded with jazz sax­o­phon­ists Tim Berne and Julius Hemphill, rock band Wilco, and post-punker Ly­dia Lunch, among oth­ers. On this fine duo record­ing, the gui­tarists keep their sound clean and pre­dictable: no noisy elec­tronic ef­fects, no ter­ri­bly dis­so­nant chords or clash­ing acous­tics. The two re­flect each other per­fectly, cast­ing mir­ror images in tone and feel. The tunes are con­sid­ered and lyri­cal with chordal com­ple­ments that have the tang of sweet-and-sour sauce. They’re any­thing but fran­tic, with the ex­cep­tion of “Racy,” a track whose ti­tle says it all. And when Cline and Lage play free and out, they’re like Hansel and Gretel, wan­der­ing off to­gether. The tech­ni­cal mas­tery, as in the seam­less shower of blended notes at the close of “Racy,” sel­dom over­shad­ows the mu­si­cal ap­peal. “The Scent of Light” starts out as introspective art mu­sic be­fore swing­ing into a tight pro­gres­sion of uni­son chords that ends with a speedy jaunt up the scale. “Whis­pers From Eve” is a sen­si­tive ex­change, as is the melan­choly “Freesia/The Bond.” As it should, “Calder” floats like the arms of a mo­bile. Fans of the Nels Cline Singers and other Cline projects should find this record­ing a pleas­ant, har­monic sur­prise.

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