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Totally beautiful and rare piano performance from Loren Connors, joined on guitar by long time collaborator Alan Licht.  Celebrating thirty years of collaboration, Loren Connors and Alan Licht performed for two nights at OTO on May 5 and 6th, 2023. On the second night, with the stage lit in blue, Connors took up a seat on the piano stool whilst Licht picked up the guitar. What followed was the duo’s first ever set with Connors on piano - one of only a few times Connors has played piano live at all - here captured and issued as The Blue Hour. Its spacious warmth came as a total surprise live, but makes complete sense for a duo whose dedicated expressionism takes inspiration from a vast spectrum of emotion. Both opening with single notes to start, it doesn't take long before a surface rises and begins to shimmer. A run up the keys, the drop of a feedback layer on a sustained and bent note. The two begin to exchange notes in tandem and brief touches of melody and chord hover. After a while, Connors picks up the guitar, stands it in his lap and sweeps a wash of colour across Licht’s guitar. Sharp, glassy edges begin to form, open strings and barred frets darkening the space. When his two pedals begin to merge, Licht finds a dramatic organ-like feedback and it’s hard not to imagine Rothko’s Chapel, its varying shades of blue black ascending and descending in the room. When Connors goes back to the piano for the second side, the pair quickly lock into a refrain and light pours in. It’s a kind of sound that Licht says reminds him of what he and Connors would do when the duo first started playing together 30 years ago. It’s certainly more melodic than some of their more recent shows, and the atonal shards of At The Top of the Stairs seem to totally dissolve. What is always remarkable about Licht is that his enormous frame of reference doesn't seem to weigh him down, and instead here he is able to delicately place fractures of a Jackson C Frank song (“Just Like Anything”,) amongst the vast sea of Connors’ blues. Perhaps it's the pleasure of playing two nights in a row together, or the nature of Connor’s piano playing combined with Licht’s careful listening, but the improvisation on The Blue Hour feels remarkably calm and unafraid. There’s nothing to prove and no agenda except the joy of sounding colour together. Totally beautiful.  --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO on Saturday 6th May 2023 by Billy SteigerMixed by Oli BarrettMastered by Sean McCannArtwork by Loren Connors Layout by Oli BarrettScreenprint by Tartaruga Manufactured in the UK by Vinyl Press.  Edition of 300 standard LPs, 100 LPs with screenprinted artwork by Loren Connors printed as inserts. Also available on a limted run of 200 CDs. 

The Blue Hour – Loren Connors & Alan Licht

'If I don't make it, I love u’ is Still House Plants’ third LP and the fullest embodiment of their sound to date. Where ‘Fast Edit’ formed with quick attachment and jump cuts, ‘If I don't make it’ is shaped by persistence - a commitment to the songs that makes the music solid, warmer and accepted. Marking the trio’s decade of friendship, this is the first record written whilst all live in the same city since 2017's ‘Assemblages’. The band rehearsed it relentlessly, playing for nobody except themselves, consistently building support for one another and growing the way they play. Jess’ voice is deeper. Fin’s guitar is full size, richer. David drums harder. Focused on one point together, everyone gets bigger and nothing falls apart. The guitar and the drums blend, raise the voice, make room for what is being said, what is felt. When able to finally record, production allowed layers, gave elasticity, a chance to fully stretch. Playing with length and connections, the band brought in analogue techniques - a Lesley cabinet on ‘Headlight’, sidechaining the snare with the guitar, pushing vocals through cheap DJ software - each process an attempt to bring one instrument closer to another, to give bass, body, backup. ‘If I don't make it, I love u’ seeks beauty, holds feeling maximum and builds surety with its sound. The most generous SHP record to date, the music is wide open, demands less. Play it again, it will come clear. --- Finlay Clark / guitarJess Hickie-Kallenbach / vocalsDavid Kennedy / drums

If I don’t make it, I love u – Still House Plants

A fascinating interdisciplinary approach to how everyday Western music works, and why the tones, melodies, and chords combine as they do. Despite the cultural diversity of our globalized world, most Western music is still structured around major and minor scales and chords. Countless thinkers and scientists of the past have struggled to explain the nature and origin of musical structures. In Psychoacoustic Foundations of Major-Minor Tonality, music psychologist Richard Parncutt offers a fresh take, combining music theory—Rameau's fundamental bass, Riemann's harmonic function, Schenker's hierarchic analysis, Forte's pitch-class set theory—with psychology—Bregman's auditory scene, Terhardt's virtual pitch, Krumhansl's tonal hierarchy. Drawing on statistical analyses of notated music corpora, Parncutt charts a middle path between cultural relativism and scientific positivism to bring music theory into meaningful discourse with empirical research. Our musical subjectivity, Parncutt explains, depends on our past musical experience and hence on music history and its social contexts. It also depends on physical sound properties, as investigated in psychoacoustics with auditory experiments and mathematical models. Parncutt's evidence-based theory of major-minor tonality draws on his interdisciplinary background to present a theory that is comprehensive, creative, and critical. Examining concepts of interval, consonance, chord root, leading tone, harmonic progression, and modulation, he asks: • Why are some scale tones and chord progressions more common than others? • What aspects of major-minor tonality are based on human biology or general perceptual principles? What aspects are culturally arbitrary? And what about colonial history? Original and provocative, Psychoacoustic Foundations of Major-Minor Tonality promises to become a foundational text in both music theory and music cognition.

Richard Parncutt – Psychoacoustic Foundations of Major-Minor Tonality

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