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Loren Connors - The Departing Of A Dream

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Artist: Loren Connors

Album: The Departing Of A Dream

Label: Family Vineyard

Review date: Aug. 27, 2013

When The Departing of a Dream first came out in 2002, it signaled both a culmination and a major shift in Loren Connors’ work. On the one hand, it consummated Connors’s long-stated but rarely demonstrated affection for the music of Miles Davis. But not just any old Miles record; he picked an outlier in Miles’s own discography. “He Loved Him Madly” took up a side of Miles’s last studio release of the 1970s, Get Up With It! It sounds like nothing else Miles ever played, nor much like anything that anyone else did for nigh on three decades, when Connors and Bardo Pond both picked up the baton of its murky, mournful organ drones and sub-oceanic bass presence.

The Departing Of A Dream also sounded drastically different than anything Connors had released up to that point. The changes in his work have often come in small increments; in the ’90s, the procurement of a new pedal or the pursuit of some new historical or literary interest might be enough to instigate a whole series of records. But this record sounded quite different from what had come before. Connors restored two instruments — acoustic guitar and electric bass — that had been absent from his records for decades. The former appeared twice, on a pair of tracks that memorialized the 9/11 attack on New York City; played slow and soft, the acoustic guitar added to the music’s atmosphere of desolation and vulnerability. The bass, however, added a bulk not previously felt in Connors’ music. Lurking underneath the slow-motion ripples of chords played through a wah-wah pedal and even slower, clean-toned leads, the bass gave the music an air of finality. Just as Miles mourned the passing of Duke Ellington by playing music that sounded nothing like Duke’s, Connors lamented the pain inflicted upon his city with sounds that not too many New Yorkers would think of if asked to pick music that typified their home; it’s too lonely, too enshrouded with shadow, to adhere to any conventional notion of what NYC sounds like. But I suppose it sounded like Connors’s state of mind at the time, since he made two follow-ups to The Departing of a Dream and stashed music that was descended from it on several others.

The bonus track tucked at the end of this vinyl reissue is drawn from one of those efforts, Sails (on Table Of The Elements). Previously only available on CD, the half hour-long record is well matched to the LP format by both time and pacing. And if your record gets noisy, the surface noise will simply personalize the layered mist of tape hiss and tape-echo chords that seems to hold Connors’s sparse, divergent lines together. The new mastering job amplifies the hiss and adds depth to the mix, so that the music feels even deeper than it first did a decade ago.

The passing decade hasn’t exactly made anyone feel better about what happened in 2001, and this new version of the LP expresses that sense of moral and economic decay by rolling off some of the brightness and letting the hiss grow like an uncut lawn. Life may not feel better, but the very fact that music long relegated to the grey limbo of file-sharing sites can come back suggests that nothing’s over yet. And as his most recent release proves, Connors is still standing tall today. His current music doesn’t sound like this record, but would you want it to? He’s still learning and growing, still alive.

By Bill Meyer

Other Reviews of Loren Connors

The Little Match Girl

Departure of a Dream, Vol. II

The Departing of A Dream, Vol. III: Juliet

Night Through

Read More

View all articles by Bill Meyer

Find out more about Family Vineyard

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