Don't be fooled by their name. The Nels Cline Singers don't actually sing at all. The only vocals that surface on this fascinating disc of found sound and avant-jazz compositions with subtle rock undercurrents belong to guest singer Greg Saunier (a sometime second-stringer for Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof), who croons airily and wordlessly on the primordially percussive He Still Carries A Torch For Her. Otherwise, this is guitar savant Cline and his improv-happy pals trying to piece together vivid soundscapes that range from the frantic Philip Glass-meets-Flight Of The Bumblebee buzz of Fly Fly to Spell's barely there squeak of bowed bass harmonics. Cline's beautiful electric guitar washes are reminiscent of Dan Lanois's instrumental work on the Sling Blade soundtrack, but he also breaks into full-on shredding on Square King. Not all the songs hold together, but The Giant Pin is challenging and quite beautiful.
The Nels Cline Singers hit the Silver Dollar as part of the VT05 fest Friday (May 20).