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Thurston Moore & Loren Connors - The Only Way To Go is Straight Through

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Artist: Thurston Moore & Loren Connors

Album: The Only Way To Go is Straight Through

Label: Northern Spy

Review date: Apr. 19, 2013

Loren Connors & Thurston Moore - New York City, The Stone 14 Jul 2012

Most guitarists who improvise with Loren Connors show the man some deference. Both Jim O’Rourke and Alan Licht have tended to orbit his Venusian blues, keeping his keening figures and nocturnal atmospheres in the center; Keiji Haino showed none of the calculated ignorance he sometimes uses to keep other musicians off balance. And while Thurston Moore certainly knows how to wail, in improvised contexts he tends to take his cues from his fellow musicians, matching their energy level.

But deference was not on the agenda during either of the performances that make up this LP, which Northern Spy has pressed up for Record Store Day 2013 in a run of 3000. “The Stone (2012/07/14)” opens with a display of outright savagery; Moore chases down and destroys tones with the cruel agility of a WW I fighter pilot keeping an evasive opponent in his sites, while Connors pumps in continuous streams of sound that bulge in the middle like a boa constrictor that chowed down on a collection of bowling balls. Then they shift to a less propulsive but not less aggressive mode; Moore’s distorted squall scythes around Connors’ squelchy wah-wah licks, then attacks it directly. Connors takes the blows and strikes back; if these were comic book characters, they’d be fencing with outboard motors.

“Public Assembly (2012/10/17)” starts, like any number of Connors concerts, with the guitarist molding slow, fell shapes while music still blares from the PA. Moore takes his time stepping in, and from there the music builds patiently to a stuttering explosion. It’s not so abandoned, but its no less thrilling than the earlier set; the quiet parts are even more white-knuckle-inducing, since you can hear the responsiveness each man brings to the encounter. It’s great to hear Connors, who was 63 years old and in sketchy health when this recordings were made, playing with such vigor. And while Moore has made it a point to flaunt his youthfulness on plenty of occasions, it’s his maneuverability and determination whilst in free fall that impresses here. This is one to track down.

By Bill Meyer

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