When Loren Connors released Red Mars in the fall of 2011, it marked his first studio recording of new material in seven years. I Wish I Didn't Dream, on Northern Spy, marks his first collaboration with life partner, vocalist, and writer Suzanne Langille in 14 years. These duets were recorded live in a studio in just a few hours, but their roots go back to 1997 when Langille and Connors were playing in a band called Haunted House with Neel Murgai and Andrew Burnes. (Haunted House's 1998 Blue Ghost Blues was issued by Northern Spy in 2011.) That recording was produced by radio producer and writer Kurt Gottschalk. Further, the band's gigs were often "illustrated" with slides of artist M P Landis' work shown in the backdrop (his art adorns the cover of Blue Ghost Blues). Gottschalk was writing the text for a forthcoming book of Landis' artwork when the pair decided it needed a soundtrack. I Wish I Didn't Dream is it. Recorded in the same studio as Blue Ghost Blues, this album was improvised on the spot. Connors' guitar work is skeletal, haunting, and spatial, alternately placid and menacing. Langille's voice, sung or spoken, articulates these texts -- folk songs, her own works, or poems by 19th century Irish poet Denis Florence McCarthy and John Keats -- with a sure-footedness of expression that offers Connors a sense of direction which he maximizes, with his requisite sense of space, texture, signature technique, and sonic nuance. Each piece has a corresponding artwork in the booklet and is so numbered and titled. "My Skin Is a Membrane [wd4825]" is brief; it begins languidly yet creates a sudden, deliberate tension that implies catharsis yet ends before it transpires. Langille begins "Just Find Your Shoes [wd4572]" as a song with an abstract text. It eventually collides with Connors' dissonance, creating drama until release is achieved. Langille's title track, "It Will Only Continue," and McCarthy's "Cease to Do Evil" create a frightening intensity full of emotion so pure, it erases the seams between dread, desire, loss, spirituality, and acceptance. While recorded to accompany Landis' artworks, the 14 pieces on I Wish I Didn't Dream are a confident, revelatory testament that articulates the beauty and power that lies between and beyond all disciplines. The welcome return of Langille and Connors together achieves via sound, that which is unrepeatable in its creativity and unspeakable in its depth.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek