After several years without a new solo release, Family Vineyard released Loren Connors’ Red Mars (and, they have another release by Connors on the way). Connors’ guitar hits like hammering piano strings, providing tones throughout the disc that are both surprisingly natural and surprisingly otherworldly. I can definitely feel a sharp crescendo, a thematic intensity building with Connors’ patient hand. Early, sparse, scattered clusters of instrumentation present a calm, stark atmosphere shattered by uncontrollable swells and release.
Connors accomplished this assembly of tones and moods with Portuguese bassist Margarida Garcia. For all the passages and interjections of clear guitar tones that can be praised for their crystal imprint, there are distinct answers from guitars that sound like bowing, pianos, glass, bells, etc. Clear fields lead to stunning density by the middle of the disc, as Connors delights in ethereal clangs “Red Mars II” and “Showers of Meteors.”
If you’ve ever lived near a place of worship, you know that bells of praise or bells of information come and go at regular, expected, spaced out intervals. And for all those expected clangs, there are days when the bells dash into your ears, unexpected, announcing some schedule of worship or mourning that belongs only to that sacred community. In the midst of your neighborhood, the grid and dwellings of your experiences, enter ringing, decaying, blasting tones that are codes, joyous, sorrowful, or something else.
Connors’ guitar crescendos late in the disc accomplish this sort of surprise that communicates something near-but-inaccessible. This interaction or ode to Mars has this completely inexplicable element of beauty to it, and it feels like living in the midst of a coded, symbolic, ritual call that is close enough to touch but completely alien.