Mystery Box Challenge with Nels Cline and Julian Lage

Any discussion of current guitar virtuosos who are still making new and inventive music has to include Nels Cline and Julian Lage. Most people will recognize Nels from his work with Wilco, but Julian may be the best discovery you make this year. Not that he's a new kid on the block by any means. Julian has been playing professionally for nearly two decades, despite being only 26. As a child prodigy, he played with Dave Grisman and Gary Burton (who he continues to tour with) among countless others. He has also released two albums as a band leader, showcasing beautiful songwriting that defies classification and his incredibly emotive and original vocabulary on the guitar.

These two are giants of guitar, both musician's musicians who are dedicated to making music that challenges the audience and themselves while remaining human and organic. They are also prolific collaborators. It's no wonder, then, that they recently teamed up to record Room, an album of duets that ranges from cerebral explorations of melodic statements to utterly beautiful textures. Listen to Room for yourself on iTunes.

We decided to indulge their desired to be challenged and collaborate in the best way we could think of: by giving them a box of random effects and gear with a strict timeline to build a rig and create new music. Watch the video to see the result of Nels Cline and Julian Lage completing the Mystery Box Challenge.

Nels Cline's Mystery Box Rig

Guitar: Bilt Volare
Effects: Custom Optical Noise Generator > Catalinbread Topanga > Boss BF-3 > Lovetone Cheese Source > ZVEX Wah Probe
Misc: Mbira (thumb piano)
Amp: Dr Z Maz 18

Julian Lage's Mystery Box Rig

Guitar: Fano Alt de Facto JM6
Effects: Red Panda Context > Moog MF Delay > Empress Nebulus > Earthquaker Devices Pitch Bay > Catalinbread Karma Suture
Amp: Dr Z Maz 18

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