One of the more twisted chopmeisters on the electric guitar landscape, Nels Cline pushes the envelope in typically extreme fashion on The Giant Pin. Like fellow guitar renegades Bill Frisell and Marc Ducret, Cline is a remarkably flexible player capable of straddling the inside-outside divide with stellar aplomb. He deals on both sides of that fence here in the company of drummer Scott Amendola and bassist Devin Hoff, alternating between fragile, engaging melodies that would charm Jim Hall fans ("Bright Moon") and sheer sonic shrapnel that would go over big-time with the mohawk set ("Square King"). And in some cases, he pulls off this yin-yang act between delicacy and savagery within the same tune, as on the darkly hued "Something About David H," which opens on a meditative note and builds to a throbbing punk crescendo.
Cline affects a warm, clean tone and a decidedly Monkish rhythmic flair on "Blues, Too" while the audacious "Fly Fly" is laced with enough distortion and blowtorch intensity to make paint peel. And yet, Nels is equally fond of crafting poignant melodies, as he demonstrates with his walking-on-eggshells aesthetic on the luminous "Watch Over Us." Elsewhere, Cline summons up Sonic Youth-styled thrash on "He Still Carries A Torch For Her" and dabbles in ambient soundscapes on "The Friar." There's lots here for open-minded six-string fans to savor.