Nels Cline Breaks Down His Latest Genre-Busting Side Project and New Album, 'Currents, Constellations'

(Image credit: Nathan West)

Nels Cline is best known to mainstream rock fans as the lead guitarist in alternative ensemble Wilco, but he also keeps up a ridiculously busy schedule of jazz, improvisational and avant-garde music projects. His newest is the Nels Cline 4 — a quartet that also features guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Tom Rainey — who have just released their debut album, Currents, Constellations.

The new project grew out of a guitar-duo collaboration Cline and Lage put together several years back, and which was captured on the 2014 effort, ROOM. That album, Cline says, “was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. When Julian and I first started playing as a duo, we’d be hanging out and improvising and trying ideas, and sometimes we’d say, ‘Hey, what if we had a rhythm section? What would we do? What would it be like?’ ”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.