Though Into the Night Sky is the sixth collaborative album between guitarists Alan Licht and Loren Connors, it is their first since In France, issued almost seven years earlier. This set contains two long tracks totaling nearly 50 minutes. Both of them are concert pieces recorded a decade apart at different locations in New York City. Combined, they reveal the depth and progress of their collaborative endeavor as well as their shared musical language that is not only unique, but utterly original. Both men bring their best games to these pieces. On the opener, “Map of Dusk,” from 1996, Connors employs his vast, intricate, and highly stylized interpretation of the blues to Licht’s spacious, texturally rich approach to improvisation. Within six minutes, different melodic statements are at work, and layers of distortion and feedback are introduced to the sparse opening moments, creating a wide-open field of exploration with space, harmonics, and lyric statements that dovetail rather than simply challenge one another -- which would be the simpler way to go. It ends in a completely different musical location than it began, with a shared, more intricate, shared improvisational language created in the process. The title track, from 2006, is more extreme in that it is formless. The sounds these instruments make, separately and together, have as much import, and perhaps more, than the actual playing of them: which notes don’t matter here so much as where and how they occur. Space becomes an overriding concern, and absolutely nothing extra gets played. Traces of lyricism appear, but vanish quickly. Elements of drone, a wah-wah pedal here and there, and even chords, do appear, but they are layered elements, not process-oriented constructions. Intensity builds from to time to time, but it too is a means to an unclear, ambiguous end which only becomes clear as the piece ends. These tracks complement one another beautifully, and articulate both depth and the willingness to explore the margins without once alienating the listener.
Into the Night Sky Review
by Thom Jurek
||Loren Connors / Alan Licht||24:17||SpotifyAmazon|
||Loren Connors / Alan Licht||24:08||SpotifyAmazon|