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Loren Connors
Blues: The “Dark Paintings” of Mark Rothko (1990, Remastered 2015)

Loren Connors — Blues: The “Dark Paintings” of Mark Rothko (1990, Remastered 2015)

  Loren Connors — Blues: The “Dark Paintings” of Mark Rothko
•ð•   Loren MazzaCane Connors (born October 22, 1949, New Haven, Connecticut). Poklidné, musíš být ve velkém útlumu, jinak by to mohlo být i nesnesitelné album. Kytara. •ð•  Loren Connors has improvised and composed original guitar music for over four decades. His music – which embraces the aesthetics of blues, Irish airs, blues–based rock and other genres while letting go of rigid forms – has been recorded on Family Vineyard, Northern Spy, Drag City, Table of the Elements, Recital, RoadCone and other labels.•ð•  Connors, who names abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko his most important influence, has performed with Thurston Moore, Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke, John Fahey, Alan Licht, Jandek, and Kim Gordon. Suzanne Langille has often appeared on Connors’ recordings as vocalist, lyricist and arranger. Connors also on occasion performs with an avant blues band called Haunted House, together with Langille, guitarist Andrew Burnes and percussionist Neel Murgai.
•ð•  In July 1979, Cadence Magazine noted that Connors, who had recently emerged in the scene, was “similar to others in the Advanced Guard of improvising guitarists in that he is trying to extend the boundaries of sound and pitch of acoustic guitar, but he is unique in the utilization of Blues in his work, one could almost say this is Avant Garde Blues. He’s swimming in new waters and beginning to make his own environment.”
•ð•  In recent years, Connors has focused mostly on live recordings of extended blues abstractions, with occasional performances in a more avant blues rock vein from time to time through the Haunted House band and collaborations with other artists.
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Album release: 1990/2015
Record Label: Family Vineyard
Duration:     30:01
Tracks:
1. Blues No. 1     3:16
2. Blues No. 2     2:56
3. Blues No. 3     3:54
4. Blues No. 4     4:34
5. Blues No. 5     4:11
6. Blues No. 6     5:00
7. Blues No. 7     4:10
Review
By Grayson Haver Currin | May 18, 2015 | Score: 8.3
•ð•   For the last four decades, Loren Connors’ guitar miniatures have crept from mysterious and twilit corners, places where bits of blues, jazz, rock, and ambient abstraction formed messy assemblages. Thin little riffs stopped mid–phrase; chords splintered, as if Connors had simply forgotten he was playing them. Background noise cycled through the recording. At first blush, Connors’ music can sound casual and even errant, the practice reels of someone learning to play.
•ð•   But stay with it, and the internal logic of Connors’ work becomes evident. Rather than mimic the blues of his forebears and heroes, he splits their style open and reorders the elements. In doing so, he can weep with his guitar, moan, exclaim and even stare (almost silently) into the middle distance. To that end, the newly resurrected Blues: The “Dark Paintings” of Mark Rothko is one of the more revelatory sets of Connors’ career, one that finds him vocalizing through six electrified strings and adds another emotional sphere to his repertoire.•ð•   The restored and remastered edition from Family Vineyard — an imprint that’s done essential work in both preserving and pushing Connors’ legacy since its second release, in 1999 — almost doesn’t qualify as a reissue. Sure, it has all the trappings, like a new cover (one of Rothko’s “dark paintings,” in fact), new liner notes, and archival addendums that include the original liner notes. But Dark Paintings was barely issued, anyway. Connors originally released it in 1990, under the short–lived named “Guitar Roberts” and on his own label, St. Joan Records, in a hand–made edition of between 200 and 300. For years, its seven tracks have existed mostly as a phantom, something you pilfered from an MP3 blog or heard about rather than heard. At last, however, one of the best documents from an essential, transitional phase of Connors’ career is widely available. It’s another chance to hear more of him and to understand his quiet intensity.                              © Bill Orcutt, Fohr, Connors, Circuit Des Yeux
•ð•   “Blues No. 4”, for instance, begins with a frail melody, Connors stepping up and down across the neck. He applies the same pattern across the instrument’s range, high notes that nearly squeal countering low ones that sulk. He stretches some into rock‘n’roll leads but mostly lets the notes circle around one another, allowing for variations so slight you barely notice. The music’s relative simplicity highlights his vibrato, or the way that the whole piece seems to wobble in time. Using only an electric guitar and a four–track recorder, Connors conjures the essence of a battered old 78, a song spit out by the horn of a hulking Victrola. Connors sings these blues with his fingers.
•ð•   Likewise, during “No. 6”, Connors sounds alternately like an opera singer and Bessie Smith, with the soprano pleas of his guitar’s upper register cutting against a blanket rumble of low notes. Dense tangles unwind into long threads for “No. 2”. Each time, it’s as if you can hear him sigh beneath some heavy burden, like Robert Johnson lamenting the last fair deal or Geeshie Wiley remembering those last kind words. •ð•   These seven instrumentals represent Connors’ responses to a posthumous exhibition of the “Dark Paintings” of Mark Rothko, a major ideological and technical influence he’s long acknowledged. Rothko finished these works just before committing suicide in 1970. Connors’ responses, then, seem like an attempt to live among those same bleak grays and blacks but to not languish in them — that is, to survive by singing about the sadness, not drowning in it. The anguish so apparent in the hand–wringing chords of “No. 1” sublimate into a kind of contemplative beauty by the end of “No. 7”.
•ð•   When I recently revisited Dark Paintings, I heard in Connors’ work an unintentional and contemporary connection I’d never imagined: These seven songs use instrumental guitar to produce the same immersive effect as recent electronic work by the likes of Andy Stott, Demdike Stare, and even Zomby. You yield to the feeling of it all as much as the technical form or finesse, however accomplished that might be. And you depend on the glimpses of light — the gentle melodies, the sudden shouts — that creep through the void. Though Dark Paintings lasts only 29 minutes, it’s work that’s worth hearing on repeat for hours, as if you live inside these sounds. The meticulous, counterintuitive logic comes into slow focus, and perseverance engrained in these reflections starts to become clear. Rather than succumb to the blues, Connors and his guitar get them out the best way they know how.
•ð•   http://pitchfork.com/
Artist Biography by Bret Adams
•ð•   The eclectic music of improvisational guitarist Loren Connors is difficult to describe neatly and concisely, but avant–garde is the best generalization. Experimental, jazz, and blues also fit, and even hints of Irish music are evident. •ð•   Connors — who names abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko as his single biggest artistic influence — is incredibly prolific; he released approximately 30 albums between 1978 and the end of the millennium — many in extremely limited quantities — on countless labels under his own name and a handful of pseudonyms (including Loren Mazzacane and Guitar Roberts). His wife, Suzanne Langille, occasionally sings on his recordings. Connors’ obscure albums met with indifference until the early ‘90s when critics began to take notice, and supporters such as Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, Gastr del Sol’s Jim O’Rourke and Alan Licht (who has recorded with Connors, Run On, Love Child, and Blue Humans) sang his praises. •ð•   Connors, who often extensively edits his recordings to create albums, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992. As a child, he studied violin (which he credits with shaping his vibrato technique on the guitar) and trombone. He also learned rock & roll bass guitar. Connors was heavily influenced by his mother’s singing as well. She often performed Johann Sebastian Bach pieces at funerals. This exposure to classical music led Connors to investigate the music of Giacomo Puccini and Frederic Chopin. Blues, particularly the works of Robert Pete Williams and Muddy Waters, also appealed to him. He studied art at Southern Connecticut University and the University of Cincinnati in the early ‘70s, but he decided his music was more original than his painting. By 1976, he’d moved back to Connecticut. Two years later, Connors began issuing albums on his own Daggett label. Between 1978 and 1980, he released eight albums of solo acoustic guitar improvisations. Just 75 to 100 copies of each were pressed and sent out to radio stations, and Connors himself doesn’t even have them all! (These albums were scheduled for re–release in 1998 as a four–CD set thanks to writer and Father Yod Records founder Byron Coley, a longtime Connors fan.)
•ð•   Between 1984 and 1989, Connors was largely inactive musically. He married Langille and they started a family. He dabbled in writing during this period and he won a haiku award in Japan. He moved to New York City in 1990, and a year later he began releasing albums on labels other than his own. After Connors learned he had Parkinson’s disease, it changed the direction of his music. His early work often consisted of short acoustic guitar pieces, but once the disease was discovered, he experimented with longer electric guitar works complete with feedback and distortion. •ð•   Much of Connors’ late– ‘90s output was released on Road Cone Records, a small label based in Portland, Oregon. The issue of The Lost Mariner, Connors’ collaboration with bassist Darin Gray, was released in 1999. The Daggett Years, a compilation culled from the Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations, Vols. 1–9, 1979–1980, and Portrait of a Soul, followed in mid–2000. Little Match Girl was issued the following year along with a second collaboration with Gray entitled This Past Spring. The Departing of a Dream on Family Vineyard, Connors’ solo studio meditation on September 11, 2001, saw its first volume released in 2002. That same year, the double–disc compilation Airs 1992–2001, was released as a limited CD–R. Departing of a Dream saw two more volumes released by Family Vineyard in 2003 and 2004, respectively (the latter was his last studio offering of new material for seven years). In France, with guitarist Alan Licht, was issued in 2003, as was the unique collaborative recording Arborvitae, with former Gastr del Sol guitarist David Grubbs. Connors, while continuing to release titles on numerous labels — live or archival material — became ever more closely affiliated with Family Vineyard, who have taken great care with his catalog as evidenced by their releases of As Roses Bow: Collected Airs 1992–2002, and Night Through: Singles and Collected Works 1976–2004, Two Nice Catholic Boys (with Jim O’Rourke), Curse of Midnight Mary, Into the Night Sky, and Hymn of the North Star; they kept fans aware of the various reissues and new live projects. Connors has released more than 50 recordings since the 1976, the bulk of which were in the ‘90s and early 21st century. •ð•   The guitarist finally returned to the studio for Family Vineyard, and released Red Mars, a five–piece suite, in September of 2011 — five days before the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, which informed the three Departing of a Dream albums. •ð•   http://www.allmusic.com/ // Website: http://www.lorenconnors.net/
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Loren Connors
Blues: The “Dark Paintings” of Mark Rothko (1990, Remastered 2015)

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