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Nels Cline / Elliott Sharp

Open the Door

(Public Eyesore; US: 2013; UK: 2013)

Nels Cline and Elliott Sharp recorded Open the Door back in 1999, but both labels intending to release the album closed up shop. So now Public Eyesore is to the rescue, finally issuing this interesting, thorny guitar-duo record. The chemistry between Cline and Sharp is evident from the jump, on the buzzing and frenetic “Blue Particles”. These are tracks that wander and allow strings to buzz, the play of harmonics against strange phrasings that challenge the listener to keep up.


The best parts here stretch the experimentation out. “Five Tastes of Sour” plays with the silence around the notes as much as the notes themselves, and the meditative results work well. The same is true of the slide-guitar led “Isotropes”, which pushes at its own borders for more than 13-minutes. The biggest track here is “Let Her In” and it too creates an interesting space through scuffing and scraping strings to make sounds echo into the studio, as if approximating feedback with acoustic instruments. The album can get a bit clustered up, the two piling notes on top of each other, but the best songs set up those fires with plenty of smoke. Without that set up, this stuff can be overwhelming. Still, it’s well worth this long-overdue release.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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Just when I thought Nels Cline couldn't get any more challenging or confrontational, he goes and makes an album like this.
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