CUP: Spinning Creature
Nels Cline guitar solos are like feature films, full of vivid emotional arcs and sudden plot twists. Each volume pedal swell and torrent of feedback is a character, and each line of dialogue is worth savoring. The longtime Wilco member directs a blockbuster midway through the eerie “Don’t Move,” a highlight from his debut joint LP with wife/collaborator Yuka Honda. After an atmospheric intro, with Cline murmuring halfway in tune over a creeping guitar fragment, the track erupts into 3-D with a staggering trip-hop groove and, suddenly, the six strings do the talking for him: His instrument convulses like a seizure patient and snarls like a rabid dog being provoked at a barbed-wire fence, as trails of notes echo into the ether. It’s the lone moment on Spinning Creature that feels like Cline unleashed—and it’s impossible not to wish for more of them. But many of these jagged, experimental tunes manage to sneak up on you with softness: He and Honda go full-on New Age on droning opener “Every Moment,” with wispy flutes and shivering guitar lines cuddling on a pillow of reverb; later on, “As Close As That” closes the record in a dreamlike atmosphere of elongated guitar arpeggios, sci-fi synth pads and glowing glockenspiel. There are groovier, more forceful moments (the psych-funk workout in the latter half of “Berries,” the processed voices and techno beats on “Soon Will Be Flood”), but the duo sound most at home in the stillness of their scenes.