Compilations / Mixes
Loren Connors: My Brooklyn
Anyone searching for a good introduction to Loren Connors' electric guitar artistry could do worse than My Brooklyn, a fifty-minute vinyl release featuring two 2012 solo live performances, the first recorded at The Stone in Manhattan and the second at Zebulon in Brooklyn. Born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1949, the Brooklyn-based musician has amassed a considerable discography over the years, with over fifty records to his name on his own labels (Daggett, St. Joan, Black Label) as well as more than two dozen on others. His is a particularly haunting and evocative sound, one heavily blues-based and bolstered by distortion and echo.
Laid down on January 7th, side one's set at The Stone captures one's ear immediately with a series of harsh strokes, but Connors is anything but a one-note player. Soon enough he reduces the volume to a whisper and gives the music room to breathe, a move that in turn helps draw attention to the contrast in dynamics and volume explored thereafter. Chiming, high-pitched shrieks resonate alongside raw scrapes and low twang, and the music rolls along like tumbleweed blown across a barren desert. At times, the material grows violent, primal even, as Connor generates indistinct smears from the guitar; in other moments, his piercing notes penetrate the space and consume it. Even during the quietest moments, crowd noise is absent, allowing for the greatest possible immersion.
By comparison, crowd noise is very audible, sometimes distractingly so, during side two's Zebulon performance, recorded on February 26 at the now-closed venue. But even with ambient sounds of cash registers, tinkling glasses, and conversing patrons present, Connor's artistry comes through powerfully. In contrast to the tone of the first piece, the second one shudders like some anguished ancestral spirit, and Connors even works in a few moments of wah-wah-like treatments alongside the thick, convulsive slabs that otherwise dominate. Whatever the differences between them, both performances show how capably Connors is of commanding an audience's attention and sustaining it from beginning to end. It also goes without saying that, to its creator's credit, My Brooklyn's primary focus is on texture, not pyrotechnics.