New York’s Blank Forms follow their amazing Catherine Christer Hennix 2LP with a recently salvaged portrait of Loren Connors as we’ve rarely heard him before, cutting loose on a barely-hinged homage to delta blues and country replete with vocals imitating the dogs that howled outside his home in New Haven, Connecticut.
Hearkening back to a time before the spectral, romantic electric guitar vignettes for which he is celebrated, ‘Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations Vol. 10’ was intended as the 10th volume in a series of solo acoustic guitar improvisations released on his label, Dagget Records. But the distributor went bankrupt, leaving the car-less Connors to dispose of the unsold stock rather than drag the records home. However, thanks to a recording found by Unseen Worlds’ Tommy McCutcheon in Columbia University Libraries archival collections, this remarkable side is finally set to find its audience nearly 40 years later.
For anyone not au fait with this period of Connors work, ‘Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations Vol. 10’ offers a shocking contrast with his possibly better known and exquisitely tender later work. The deftness is still patently there, but the results are jaggedly raw and perhaps best compared with his transatlantic blues brother Derek Bailey, strung out in an array of wildly pitch-bent yanks and wails that could be described as expressions of heartbroken despair, laments for lost souls, or possessed by spirits, depending your own take.
In Connors’ hands, here the history of the blues and country collapses into the brink of abstraction, but, most crucially, his music remains integrally tied to those styles, with Connors acting as a conductive vessel for a swarm of hard-bitten ghosts to say their piece.