I think it was probably a well-thumbed (to disintegration point) copy of Coley and Johnson's F.E., now sadly lamented and only internet-accessible, that first flipped me the fax re: Mazzacane Connors. But brain-lodged it became - venusian blues, played tweaked and black star silent by some ex-bluesman with a cloud-obscured discography which hadn't begun yesterday. Then I spied it, lurking in Tower would you believe, in Glasgow, in Indie, on CD, £14.99 and it was raining out, me fresh off the bus from Partick, hand in hand with my then heart's true, cash on the desk and home to headphones and spliff (a heavy imbiber then, yes). "Hell's Kitchen Park" was the title, on Loren's own Black label and to this moment it still stands as my favourite. Based around the lives and goings of the people of Hell's Kitchen Park, a notorious Irish-American slum in NY, Mazzacane is at the peak of his playing.
And his peaked playing features; some of the most lyrical and heart-wrought string bending and pulse-playing you'll ever hear. A master of 'voicing' his guitar, each line/pattern/note takes on individual characteristics, unique speech-like inflections and a track like "Mother and Son" (from HKP and also beautifully laid out on the to-kill-for "Mother and Son" e.p. on Roadcone) so convincingly articulates the true warmth and soul-spoken undertow of this particular family dynamic that you'll weep. Mostly Mazzacane plays on his own, solo guitar notes fired off into black space borne forward on muggy bubble-popped chords with such a righteous sense for higher melodic concerns and the notes that count that it by-passes the intellect immediately, impacting on a deep emotional level. On HKP he's joined twice by his wife Suzanne Langille who contributes some hollow bodied night mourning vocals ALA ESP's first lady of the siren-call Miss Patty Waters.
A potted history: 1978 and Mazzacane starts to self-release records under the pseudonym Guitar Roberts (up to '89s "In Pittsburgh" recently re-released by Dexter's Cigar, the Jim O'Rourke curated subsidiary of Drag City). With the dawn of the 90's (and the heavy duty praise of Byron Coley who plans to release a box set of all his early work real soon) Mazzacane goes back to his own name and there follows an avalanche of unimpeachably 'out' product on countless labels such as Table Of The Elements, Persona Non Grata, Roadcone and What Next?
The Loren Mazzacane/Suzanne Langille "Come Night" CD on What Next? is particularly satisfying, even if just to hear Mazzacane tussling in company. Here he turns up amidst beautifully bubbled tenor sax and brushed percussion, laying out some of his most, uh, 'amorous' lines and generally performing cartwheels around the throb-space of Langille's vocal boomese. "Moonyean" on Roadcone is another winner which sees Loren alone and buck naked with some of his purest and clean toned ripple to date and "Rooms" on his own St Joan label is a similarly un-dust coated investigation into the hazy space round note-solids and dimensions of sound. "Long Nights" on Table Of The Elements features some folk-dented laments and plenty of his new found interest in heavily dunted downstrokes and feedback spray which has seen him compared to Japanese guitar-god Keiji Haino. Check out "Hell! Hell! Hell! Hell! Hell!", "9th Avenue" or the recent "Calloden Harvest" for some more of that action.
Indeed there's been a couple of volumes of Haino/Mazzacane guitar duelling the consensus on which was pretty universally 'disappointed' 'cept yours truly who lapped them up like a hound on heat especially the 2nd volume, though they're both worth hearing if only for the bizarre scenario of a cowering and deferent Haino following timidly in Mazzacane's footsteps. Haino's usual strategy is to take his sparring partner's head clean off so it's testimony to the strength of Loren's vision that it comes out sounding much more like his record. There's also been a uniformly stunning trio of duo releases with notorious US ponce-king Alan Licit (of Run On, "The Evan Danto Of Noise?" etc) which anyone interested in an expansive re-setting of Sterling Morrison's weave work on the Velvets 3rd is well advised to get acquainted with.
Packing all the emotionally-charged cloud weight and blue sky split of John Fahey at his most ascendant and the strident sonic slippage of Derek Bailey's avant-whup what the?, Mazzacane is one of the most idiosyncratic and emotionally dead-on of the new music front-line. I dunno, sell yr fucking Nintendo or summit…just get acquainted real soon. You won't regret it…