Apr 21

Loren Connors, Keiji Haino, and Matana Roberts played at the Whitney last night as part of its Blues for Smoke exhibition. Connors’ set was quite sonically similar to last time I saw him — his guitar transmuted to sound like alien gongs, all uneasy resonances and endless sustain. As Connors finished and sat down at the back of the stage, Haino entered with some astonishing prepared guitar: laying it flat on the tabletop, he tapped on the strings and conjured a mesmerizing pulsating chime. But then he transitioned to reverb-heavy abstracted blues and lost velocity. Even Connors’ return didn’t make the set cohere; instead, it flatlined in the soupy drone. Haino’s stage presence encapsulated the difference between this set and the one at Issue two nights before: where before he was flailing around the stage, at the Whitney he sat still.

Matana Roberts set, though, was as strange and thought-provoking as I could have hoped. She mixed the roaring strength of her alto saxophone with clangorous electronic loops and sung collisions of blues, smoke, blood, red… Roberts’ stage presence is powerful but enigmatic — like this music itself. But as the performance went on and the video projection behind her started to show train tracks and blurring motion, it started to feel like we were watching the blues, like smoke, dispersing and permeating America.

  1. ghostoutfit posted this