Anticipated debut from Loren Mazzacane Connors, Suzanne Langille and counterparts from Atlanta's San Augustin - this group threaten to be the mythical rock combo where Loren's guitar has been displaced. While the guitarist's technique has drawn from the dripping psychedelic groups, his playing has never before been documented writhing about above the pounding mantra of a blues rock rhythm section as his style often hints at. Though this is hardly a conventional rock band - not by any stretch of the imagination, but the pulse and atmosphere is as close to a conventional band as Suzanne and Loren's collaboration has since "Come Night".
This recording steps further beyond - and as seen here in the DMG Sunday Live Music series last month - the group shifted up a gear into full-swing at times adhering to a lateral pulse, where Loren's guitar is most grounded; his tangential drift is always called home to the beat... When the beat here is provided by a single Persian Daf drum, the atmosphere is a shattered and skeletal corps - where the carriage is the great ship of song form - the framework held together here by the barest of adhesion.
Suzanne's voice is resonant throughout, guiding the quartet into picnoleptic delirium like she knows the way too well. When they reach that point where nothing means more than anything, then they spin and howl in a storm of screaming notes - and when they do reach that territory - which is, paradoxically, a zone where the difference between dense interplay and musical taxiing is a mere surge in syncopated energy - well then that's when the group is really switched on.
The Wire, David Keenan, 11/99
Haunted House is Loren MazzaCane Connors's much anticipated group, featuring Suzanne Langille on vocals, Andrew Burnes on second guitar, and Neel Murgai on percussion. Langille wrote two of the three monstrous tracks, the third being a cover of Lonnie Johnson's 'Blue Ghost Blues." They all permit MazzaCane plenty of space to roam. The 23 minute "Been So Long" is dominated by his solo 'dialogue' between two separate voicings, where he alternates slow, surging and quivering downstrokes with frail, tremulous speechnotes. Langille's entrance is so unexpected it's unnerving, her voice this time dark and ominous as it descends from the clouds. With MazzaCane firing epic, heartwrenching blues arcs into the blackness, this is one of his most dramatic records.
Musings, Richard Cochrane
Connors sounds here like an unhinged Mark Knopfler, peeling off pinging pentatonic scales and "emotive" bends like a bedroom bluesman in a cathedralful of artificial reverb. He should be terribly boring for just that reason, but what he does here is actually very involving; he invites us into an oddly postmodern, and very personal, universe where Ry Cooder has gone off the rails and Stevie Ray Vaughan's ghost has written a Beginner's Rock Guitar method. Maybe it's the very prosaic nature of Connors' playing which makes this music so distinctive. There's a would-be guitar hero on every street who plays like this, noodling mournfully in A minor while waiting for his mum to call him for tea. Or at least, there used to be, twenty years ago, when kids still wanted to be guitarists rather than DJs or video artists or whatever they want to be these days. He doesn't try to do anything "avant garde" at all; even his chord progressions have that modal predictability which graces and disgraces thousands of home tapes around the world.
So why is this interesting, rather than rubbish? Is it due to some terribly posed irony which would have us listening with a cocked eyebrow and a wry smile playing about our lips? No, it's something else, and it's mostly to do with the partners who Conners has assembled for Haunted House and the sounds they make together. Although the harmonic and melodic language is a slightly less sophisticated version of "Brothers in Arms", there's a timbral language overlaid on it like a murky, evil patina, and that makes all the difference.
In a way, the star of the record is Murgai. This writer has no idea what a Daf looks like, but here he sounds as if he's moving heavy objects around and bumping gently into the microphones. A sinister, scraping shuffle occasionally intrudes on the extraordinary quantities of reverb, putting the whole atmosphere in motion like a pressure-wave. Meanwhile, mixed low, Langille's voice moans in beautiful, arching lines which are doubled by the reverberation into a phantom chorus.
There's something genuinely eerie about this combination of naive emotionalism and rather distant vocalisation in an ambiance which threatens to drown everything and turn it into a sludge. Very, very weird stuff indeed, then; not alternative so much as conceptual rock, a music which relies on juxtaposition to create an effect which is disturbing and complicated. Perhaps they're a good live proposition, but this is really music to put on at night, with the lights down low, and get freaked-out by.