I’m no connoisseur/expert of art, so my apologies in advance for my probable use of incorrect terminology when describing Rothko. Mark Rothko’s style (as you can tell, Rothko (and I believe this particular painting) was the inspiration for this album Connors did) is minimalist; according to Wikipedia, he was part of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Usually there are few colors used in his paintings and even then, they’re painted in large blocks and lines. He basically leaves all the interpretation and imagining to you. The painting in question on the cover looks like the surface of the moon juxtaposed with a starless, hopeless space; it’s bleak. Perhaps you get something else from it. Connors does an expert job (as expected with anything he involves himself with) in portraying the bleak atmosphere within this untitled piece. This was made 25 years ago, but I think it’s aged rather beautifully. See what you think of it by checking out the Spotify stream below. Cheers!

 

The Details

Blues: The ‘Dark Paintings’ of Mark Rothko is one of Loren Connors’ most cherished and sought after albums. Originally released in a handmade edition of 200 or so copies on Connors’ own St. Joan imprint in January 1990 under the name Guitar Roberts -- Blues has been unavailable in any form until now.

At time of its release, Connors was still an inscrutable guitarist whose matchless and alien rendering of the blues was just gaining recognition despite more than a dozen solo and collaborative releases since 1978. Connors’ classic, song-based In Pittsburgh had only been available for three months when Blues welcomed the new decade with its reformation of the blues as minimalist lines and tone; a compound of influences spanning Louisiana guitarist Robert Pete Williams to painter Mark Rothko.

"Moving with the slow, stately weirdom we expect of Connors' late '80s sound, the music is all shards, all pokes in the eye, as though Rothko's gray scale had exploded, sending shrapnelized paint rocketing through your brain," music historian Byron Coley writes in the liner notes of this reissue. "Just as Connors' notes ricochet hauntedly through its recesses."

For this reissue, engineer Taylor Deupree restored the audio to Connors’ specifications of how these seven instrumentals were intended to sound. Cover art is an untitled 1969 Rothko work -- a painting that influenced the album. The original LP jacket is replicated as a glossy inner sleeve. New liner notes by Coley chart Connors' development and the influence Rothko had on him as a guitarist. Pressed on pristine 150-gram vinyl by Quality Record Pressing in an 800 edition; includes download coupon.

LP cover image by Mark Rothko Untitled, 1969 © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Price $17

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