Loren Connors & Suzanne Langille, I Wish I Didn’t Dream (Northern Spy)
With new recordings freely available online, often even before they’re officially released, labels are scrambling to provide punters with value-added reasons to purchase rather than pirate product. Packaging was a primo pull in the LP era, but it takes an extraordinary effort to export this excitement to CDs, with their shrunken cover art and miniscule text. I Wish I Didn’t Dream offers a 20-page booklet with original art, lyrics to all titles and a short story, along with intriguing music, an assemblage which should spur some sales.
Loren Connors, an American guitarist now in his early 60s, has released over 60 albums under various pseudonyms like Guitar Roberts and Loren MazzaCane, and with groups like Haunted House. He claims to be just “playing the blues,” but that simple description does not do justice to his singular Strat style, which transforms decelerated single-note arpeggios into droning smears of glass through heavy use of reverb, delay and distortion. Most notes fade into oblivion before the next is plucked, but hissy white noise peaks swell up when sounds get trapped inside a delay line set to infinite repeat. The atmosphere rings with an elegant yet harrowing primal scream, so fragile it may shatter at any moment.
Against this backdrop, Connors’ wife, poet Suzanne Langille, lays down breathy, whispering, confidential confessions. The lyrics are not improvised, but their placement within the music is, and Langille matches Connors’ approach by letting the words drip out with slow deliberation. Thin cirrus clouds are barely there, though they’re enough to set the mood, the pervading quietude occasionally interrupted by peaks of anguished cries.
Each of the 14 tracks is paired with an abstract painting by M P Landis. Although I couldn’t discern a direct correlation between the visual art and the music, the vibes from all three art forms clearly coalesce into a coherent whole. The liner notes are rounded out by a first-person travelogue from Kurt Gottschalk, music critic and producer of the record. Whether or not the anecdote is true, its odd offhand weirdness somehow fits in.
It’s the second single by Baltimore’s Dungeonesse — aka Jon Ehrens (White Life, Art Department) and singer Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes) — as well as the lead track off their forthcoming eponymous debut album, out on Secretly Canadian on May 14.
Mykki Blanco, “Kingpinning”
Chains, studs, leather, PVC, a gimp mask, boys in make-up — and Valentine’s Day’s only a week away. As directed by Clarence Fuller, Mykki Blanco gets kinky in this new video. Watch him turn into a black Plastik Patrik in the second half.