Agitated Atmosphere: Loren Connors - Blues: The "Dark Paintings" of Mark Rothko

Agitated Atmosphere, Album Reviews
05/15/2015
Justin Spicer

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Loren Connors.

Artist Mark Rothko is credited for saying, in regards to hope: “10 percent to make the tragic concept more endurable.”

Rothko has long been an influence for guitarist Loren Connors, and his quote couldn’t seem more apropos to Connor. Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the early 1990’s, Connors has long been chasing hope through the muse of his collaborators and the vehicle of his guitar. Whatever hope he may be implanting into his sparse, stark arrangements speaks to a deeper understanding of doubt in the face of insurmountable odds. But Connors has battled his diagnosis for more than 20 years, producing a catalog of unbelievable wealth that has continued to grow his staunch fan base.

So it comes as no surprise that as often as Connors produces new music, he is also the recipient of respectful reissues. Longtime partner label Family Vineyard picks up where it and likeminded admirers of Connors’ art left off (including a recent reissue of Airs by Recital).

The latest prized possession of Connors canon is the only in-your-face notice of his admiration for Rothko, Blues: The "Dark Paintings" of Mark Rothko. Much like Rothko’s current work, the album inspired by a showing titled “The Dark Paintings” is a bit of an expensive and limited catch. The original – released under Connors’ pseudonym Guitar Roberts, was a handmade edition of 300 that has largely remained in the hands of those 300 patrons lucky enough to grab a copy.

Much like the works of those late 60’s and early 70’s Rothkos that so captured the imagination of a watchful Connors, his work on vinyl is also painted in large block swatches of neutral starkness. Each piece on the album is a simple, but striking work onto itself, full of hope in its own way.

Rothko may be a presence and influence on Connors’ work before and beyond, but what Blues showcases are the real heroes of Connors, even if they never fit into the equation; the dark paintings of Atkins, Paul and Johnson mingling with the term ‘blues’. It becomes more than just mood but a tonal attitude toward artful expression.

As Rothkos are now auctioned and sold for extraordinary practices, it only seems fitting that Blues is a treasure to collectors and fans alike. Though a reissue may seem nothing more than a poster or print hung in a dorm room, we should carry hope in the fact that we’re able to even hear it at all.

Justin Spicer is the editor of Cerberus at Tiny Mix Tapes and contributes to outlets such as Ad Hoc and Cuepoint. You can follow him on Twitter.

Related News & Reviews

Agitated Atmosphere Album Reviews

Agitated Atmosphere: Tashi Dorji - Appa

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmo...


Read More
Album Reviews

Album Review: Hot Chip - Why Make Sense?

"Connection... correction." If you summed up UK dance veterans Hot Chip in an obscure two word phrase, I think this bridge from "Love Is The Future" would do quite nicely. It's between these two poles of connection and correction that Hot Chip have operated for over a decade. From "I Was The Boy ...


Read More
Album Reviews

Album Review: Tei Shi - Verde

Argentinian-born singer Tei Shi is upping the ante with her second EP release, Verde, out now through Mermaid Avenue. Her debut EP, Suadade was released back in November of 2013, garnering comparison to Feist and other melancholy songwriters operating on the sonic fringe while maintaining some se...


Read More
Agitated Atmosphere Album Reviews

Agitated Atmosphere: Circuit Des Yeux - In Plain Speech

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmo...


Read More
Click anywhere to return to the site