Wednesday, November 15th, ISSUE is pleased to present the first-ever duo performance between singular guitarists Loren Connors and Oren Ambarchi: an occasion intersecting their parallel championing of the instrumental abstraction of the guitar, and their independently meaningful performance histories at ISSUE.
Two elemental figures in the progression of guitar music across its various evolutions, Connors and Ambarchi embody and deconstruct the tense dichotomies between their performative leanings: the painterly and technical, the flickering tone and the pure signal, the expressive and minimal. Their differences often stylistically overlap in the subtlety of their techniques and in their expansive improvisational careers -- a constellation of collaborations that include their respective recordings and concerts with Jim O’Rourke, Aki Onda, Alan Licht and Keiji Haino (most recently Ambarchi with Nazoranai, and Connors with a transatlantic improvisation that took place in Shibuya and ISSUE in 2014).
Connor’s work wavers between outlining bare, instrumental miniatures and glowing electric guitar poems -- always threaded with an ever-present compassion that has become his signature. Ambarchi’s deft and exploratory work “re-routes the guitar into a zone of alien abstraction where it’s no longer easily identifiable as itself -- instead, it’s a laboratory for extended sonic investigation.” Both artists demonstrate a longstanding interest in transcending conventional instrumental approaches toward the guitar in homage to and abstraction of its traditional genres -- arriving at deeply nuanced perspectives that have charted an alternative vision for the instrument.
Ambarchi and Connors are a pairing so overt, it’s both obvious to consider their alliance and challenging to speculate their resulting sound. Though they differ in generation, their activism for the progression of the guitar-form is fundamental to ISSUE’s instrumental ecology.
This event is presented on November 15th, declared as Suzanne Fiol Day in Brooklyn, and is free for all ISSUE Members.
Loren Connors has improvised and composed original guitar music for over four decades. His music – which embraces the aesthetics of blues, Irish airs, blues-based rock and other genres while letting go of rigid forms – has been recorded on Family Vineyard, Northern Spy, Drag City, Recital, and other labels. Connors names abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko his most important influence, and has honed his aesthetic not only through music but also through experimentations in haiku and visual art. He has performed with Thurston Moore, Keiji Haino, John Fahey, Kim Gordon, Tom Carter, Jandek, and others. Connors also performs with an avant blues band called Haunted House, together with vocalist Suzanne Langille, guitarist Andrew Burnes and percussionist Neel Murgai. Masters of Cinema released the Carl Dreyer film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, featuring a soundtrack composed and performed by Loren Connors. In recent years, Connors has focused mostly on live recordings of extended blues abstractions, with occasional performances in a more avant blues rock vein from time to time through the Haunted House band and collaborations with other artists.
In July 1979, Cadence Magazine noted that Connors, who had recently emerged in the music scene, was “similar to others in the Advanced Guard of improvising guitarists in that he is trying to extend the boundaries of sound and pitch of acoustic guitar, but he is unique in the utilization of Blues in his work, one could almost say this is Avant Garde Blues. He’s swimming in new waters and beginning to make his own environment.”
Oren Ambarchi's works are hesitant and tense extended songforms located in the cracks between several schools: modern electronics and processing; laminal improvisation and minimalism; hushed, pensive songwriting; the deceptive simplicity and temporal suspensions of composers such as Morton Feldman and Alvin Lucier; and the physicality of rock music, slowed down and stripped back to its bare bones, abstracted and replaced with pure signal. From the late 90's his experiments in guitar abstraction and extended technique have led to a more personal and unique sound-world incorporating a broader palette of instruments and sensibilities. On releases such as Grapes From The Estate and In The Pendulum's Embrace Ambarchi employed glass harmonica, strings, bells, piano, drums and percussion, creating fragile textures as light as air which tenuously coexist with the deep, wall-shaking bass tones derived from his guitar.
Ambarchi has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists such as Fennesz, Charlemagne Palestine, Sunn 0)), Thomas Brinkmann, Keiji Haino, Alvin Lucier, John Zorn, Manuel Gottsching/Ash Ra, Merzbow, Jim O'Rourke, Keith Rowe, Akio Suzuki, Phill Niblock, John Tilbury, Richard Pinhas, Evan Parker, Crys Cole, Fire! and many more.
Since 2001 Ambarchi has toured Europe, North America and Japan regularly and has performed at major festivals such as ATP (UK), Sonar (Spain), Mutek (Canada), CTM (Germany), INA GRM (France), Roskilde (Denmark), Etna Fest (Italy), Festival De Mexico (Mexico) and many more including a recent live collaboration with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra at the Tectonics festival in Reykjavik. His acclaimed trio with Keiji Haino and Jim O'Rourke performs in Tokyo annually with many of their concerts documented on Ambarchi's Black Truffle label.
Ambarchi has released numerous recordings for labels such as Touch, Editions Mego, Drag City, PAN, Southern Lord, Kranky and Tzadik. In 2003 his live release Triste received an honorary mention in the Prix Ars Electronica digital music category. His release Quixotism was listed in The Wire magazine's top 50 releases of 2014 and that same year Pitchfork named him Experimental Artist Of The Year.
His latest solo release is Hubris and features an astonishing cast of players including Crys Cole, Mark Fell, Arto Lindsay, Jim O'Rourke, Keith Fullerton Whitman and Ricardo Villalobos amongst others. Hubris was listed in numerous "Best Albums Of 2016" listings in renowned magazine's such as The Wire, Rolling Stone, The Quietus and Tiny Mix Tapes.