The late guitar style of Loren Connors uses spare playing techniques to stage meditations on time and place. (Excerpt)
By Matt Krefting
Analog Path CD
"Loren Connors’s catalogue is formidable in its size, and it mines fragile, painful and singular territory. His earlier work was characterised by anguished string bending, moving from acoustic to electric guitar. As he has aged, Connors’s style has become simpler and tends towards washes of sound, with all the explicit bending or plucking sounding far away, like a figure behind a curtain. There is a sense that the music itself could evaporate at any moment. It’s impossible to imagine that anyone could arrive at such a style without the years of work that Connors has behind him – the blues is omnipresent, but he doesn’t so much play the blues as inhabit them.
This new disc collects two live sets from early 2012. The first, recorded at The Stone on New York’s Lower East Side, slowly springs out of the ether via a series of alternating phrases, opening into an ever so brief reference to “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, which quickly comes apart in his hands. Still, he continues to pull the rhythm of the
children’s song apart, forgoing its tonal qualities in favour of a series of ethereal pulses, chugging waves of rhythmic chimes and shards, full of notes that twinkle and flutter. He moves from guttural gasps to whispers in such a way that the music sounds like a conversation with itself. It’s a haunting of a melody more than an
investigation of it, an infusion of a style into a familiar musical fragment. There are moments of near silence where the music feels like it’s ducking under water, and much of his playing at this point in his career has a nautical quality. It is heard now through layers; his pedals and his amplifiers, sure, but more through his strumming, his fingerings, his brushing of the strings and drumming the body of his instrument. The second piece, recorded at the now defunct Zebulon in Brooklyn, is even more abstract. It gushes and shudders
with unease, and pauses with deep, contemplative breaths. You hear his music get away from him, and witness how he catches up with it. Every sounding of his guitar carries a weight as serious as life itself. Connors is tied to no particular aesthetic of improvisation, but relishes moments themselves in the hope that they might acquire new and unexpected shades. In calling the album My Brooklyn, Connors is reflecting on a personalised vision of a borough that has changed immeasurably during the time he has lived there. Connors’s Brooklyn predates the invasion of money, fashion and cultural ADD that has permeated it. It is not the Brooklyn of well-trimmed
beards, artisanal bread and craft beer. He is pining for a time before people were being priced out of their neighbourhoods, not necessarily by individuals, but by a culture that breeds an enchantment with sameness, a playground-level desire to keep up with trends. His Brooklyn is equal part neighbourhood and shadow, a place
of comforting community and perhaps palpable danger. He’s not saying it’s better or worse, merely that it’s waning into the past. "
Thank you Derek, Thank you Matt!!