LOREN CONNORS – As Roses Bow: Collected Airs 1992-2002

(Family Vineyard)

Loren Connors is undoubtedly a cult figure, although this reviewer has never been seriously captured by his music. Really couldn’t say why. I remember buying “Rooms” – a rare earlier CD under the “Loren Mazzacane” name – when nobody outside a few stray cats knew who this man was, yet that very release has remained lying in my archive for years following a couple of listens, and the experimental work that came later (I’m especially thinking to “In twilight”) is nice, but not something to rip hair off my head. After paying taxes to my off-bandwagon sincerity here we go, writing of a sweet double album gathering 43 “airs” – influenced by Irish tunes, in particular O’Carolan’s – that LC produced in short creative bursts upon embracing his Stratocaster and taping the results over the course of a decade. The most ancient takes – the majority of which is grouped on the first CD – contain large doses of hiss that often swallow the chorused timbre of the guitar, thus enjoying the object via speakers at reasonable volume is warmly recommended. The collection was compiled from ten out-of-print albums and includes several previously unreleased tracks; 90 minutes of placidly dejected playing, mostly instrumental except sparse interventions by Suzanne Langille (and Connors himself, who at times hums timidly together with the melodies he’s elaborating – lovely moments, indeed). Some of these instantaneous songs are just delightful, others are a little more than experiments, seldom with different timbral solutions (“Frozen Star”, “Death of Shelley”). All of them are full of sadness, deeply imbued with spiritual discernment and introspective moods, as pleasing to the ears as a favourite movie soundtrack, if definitely more cutting in terms of metaphoric grief. Even a tepid participant like myself can’t help but be attracted by this great set.

POST SCRIPTUM (for the oh-so-literate, truly cultivated readers). Regarding “Mazzacane” (pronounced “Mutts-Uh-Cun-Eh” should non-Italians be interested), a surname reportedly removed by its bearer for “bad karma” reasons. The often narrated myth about the significance (“kill dogs with a club and get paid for this”) needs to be slightly degassed. As a matter of fact, the original meaning is simply “dog killer”. Confusion perhaps arose since “mazza” also translates into “club” in Italian, yet in this case’s acceptation it comes from the same root of the Spanish “mata”, therefore “kill” (“cane” obviously meaning “dog”). Understand? Not that it changes much, but at least money is out of the equation. Who else would type 125 words only to explain this to you? I probably need a holiday.


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