[Table of the Elements, www.tableofthelements.com]

Though I've been an observer of Loren Connors work over the years, it's always been from afar. I've not really immersed myself in his magical guitar world to consider myself a close friend or even a true fan, though that never stopped me from enjoying his music thoroughly. The latest example of a stellar release is the recent two CD set "Sails", where Connors drowns the listener - newcomer or advanced - with intricate sounds of blues-etched, carefully strewn guitar work. On the first CD, Connors is obsessed with exploring variations on three particular pieces and additionally performs two other originals in one take. I'm not sure why it is that some refer to Connors as an "avant bluesman"?The guitar road he's chosen is fairly straight, leading him on a journey of self-discovery, dusty back roads and humble honesty. His work is filled with quiet introspection, fervent comprehension and a freshness not to be found anywhere else. When he strikes the strings on his electric guitar, it's as if he were giving each individual strike a good amount of forethought. All of this is quite apparent on the first disc, as Connors dives right into passages that are stark, barren and ultimately tinged with a hint of sadness. Disc two starts off with a pensive duet "Dark is the Night, Cold is the Ground", played with one of Connors' heroes, bluesman guitarist John Fahey. While Connors plucks stringent notes on his electric, Fahey barrels down with fervent passages on his guitar. Together, we get an exciting meeting of two equals, both men giving the other ample room to breathe and state their piece. [My only regret is the fact that no recording date is given so it's difficult to place this piece in a timeline context. ]Centerpiece of the entire album is the 36 minute title track. Throughout its duration, Connors gives us plenty of reasons to cheer. In fact, the piece is an aural story of a voyage on the seas. While the first good chunk of the piece features pensive guitar pickings, during the middle part, much field recordings are used [howling storm on the seas, people screaming, drowning?]. It's this section that sucks you into the story Connors has evoked. As the storm dies down, he's back again, plucking away the finale to a morose tale. His sustained notes are mesmerizing in their finality. Once they're gone, they're dead for good. Great thing is Connors applies a stunning, centered drone to much of the work on this piece, leaving listener unable to concentrate on anything but the music at hand. Each note he draws from his guitar is worth its weight in gold. Carefully thought out and realized with stunning detail, "Sails" is not just a great record. It's a momentous one.

-Tom Sekowski

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