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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Three by Loren Connors

Loren Connors - The Red Painting (Family Vineyards, 2016) ***½
Tom Carter & Loren Connors - untitled (Family Vineyards, 2016) ****
Loren Connors & Clint Heidorn - Light (Family Vineyards, 2016) ****

By Paul Acquaro

The Red Painting
In the cover story from The Wire (#389, July 2016), Kurt Gottschalk described guitarist, pianist, and painter, Loren Connors as "a man who often comes across as a strange mixture of slow-motion and impatience." I cannot think of a better way to introduce The Red Painting. This single-sided seven-inch, contains five minutes of carefully considered, piano and guitar. Slow and unfolding, but at the same time, radiating a certain energy. Recorded in 2009 but only recently released, this is Connors' debut piano recording, and though it's a 'new' instrument in his discography, the music retains the spacious minimalism and abstracted melodicism of his recent guitar oriented recordings. Between the slowly changing arpeggios, there is a silence almost as loud as the piano keys themselves. The ambiance of the creaking of the piano bench is almost as important as the music. One gets the sense that everything matters, it is an economy of notes, and not one is to be missed.

The guitar duo collaboration between Connors and Tom Carter (from the Charalambides) - untitled - is sometimes unnerving and ever fascinating in its slow unfolding of sound. It's a soundtrack to a scorched earth landscape, decades after it has been scorched. We feel of the wind blowing across cracked deserted streets, and dark rain drops bouncing off broken glass windows. It's a gorgeous lugubrious swirl of sound. The two tracks are about 15 minutes each and capture the sound of the two electric guitars played with controlled abandon and minimalist sensibilities. Feedback and overtones are as important to the atmosphere as the legato notes and fragments of sound. A dark and slowly unfolding album where tension and intensity play off patience and reserve.

Compared to untitled, Light from Connors (guitar) and Clint Heidorn (guitar) is indeed just what it title says. Though spacious and open like the former, it is also a brighter album, where the gentle refraction of melody reflects a melancholic hope. The album limited in quantity - 300 12" clear vinyl along with prints of Connors artwork.

Overall, a really nice set of new and thoughtfully packaged music from Connors and Family Vineyards.