Coward (Cryptogramophone)

Nels Cline

Released February 10, 2009

Top 10 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll 2009




Guitarist Nels Cline, recently named a “Guitar God” by Rolling Stone Magazine, presents a brilliant solo CD that covers an extraordinarily broad range of musical styles, with a surprising acoustic sensibility. The provocative title belies the intensely personal nature of this album which demonstrates a daring musicianship and a willingness to take musical and emotional risks. Coward blends improvisation and composition with a huge and constantly changing emotional and timbral palette.  “Coward” is a musical tour de force.

Track Listing:

1. Epiphyllum (Nels Cline) 04:21

2. Prayer Wheel (Nels Cline) 05:00

3. Thurston County (Nels Cline) 07:04

4. The Androgyne (Nels Cline) 03:10

5. Rod Poole’s Gradual Ascent To Heaven (Nels Cline) 18:41

6. The Divine Homegirl (Nels Cline) 04:24

7. X Change (s) (Nels Cline) 04:20

8. The Nomad’s Home Onan (Suite) (Nels Cline) 03:43

9. I. Amniotica (Nels Cline) 02:48

10. II. Lord & Lady (Nels Cline) 05:00

11. III. Dreams In The Mirror (Nels Cline) 01:38

12. IV. Interruption (Onan’s Psychadelic Breakdown) (Nels Cline) 01:51

13. V. Seedcaster (Nels Cline) 03:12

14. VI. The Liberator (Nels Cline) 03:21

15. Cymbidium (Nels Cline) 03:51


Nels Cline: electric and acoustic 6- and 12-string guitars (steel string and otherwise, prepared and otherwise), Srvti boxes, loops, banjo uke, tenor ukulele, zither, fretless cigar box guitar, Turkish 12-string; dobro, 6-string bass, megamouth, electric autoharp, Quintronics drum buddy, Kaossilator effects.

Recorded April 13 – 18, 2008, at Catasonic, Los Angeles, CA, by Mark Wheaton

Mixed by Mark Wheaton and Nels Cline

Mastered by Rich Breen

Cover Paintings by Angela DeCristofaro

Executive-Producer: Jeff Gauthier


Though best known for his shredding solos with the rock band Wilco, Nels Cline is a guitarist’s guitarist: a shape-shifting musician who skillfully inhabits any musical setting. Cline has long been a hero as a session player and in the underground improvisational and experimental pop-music scenes. But with Coward, Cline overdubs his guitars and other instruments into complex tapestries of slowly evolving meditations. While not a “jazz” album in a traditional sense, Coward shares a common harmonic language and improvisational spirit, inspired by ECM recordings and avant-garde compositions. Coward is a stunningly beautiful record that synthesizes elements of rock, Asian folk music, spacious country and minimalism in a wholly original way.

Mike Katzif (npr)