What is in a name? In a world where image is increasingly all-encompassing, you still feel that with many bands nowadays it is as though their name has been plucked from the air almost at random and means about as much to the project as does their choice of toothpaste. Klaxons aside, I really struggle to pick out many examples, from my increasingly wavering awareness of contemporary popular music, where you could see the name after hearing the music – or, indeed, vice versa – and think, But of course; how could they be called anything else? I am sure you could perhaps think of a couple names yourself, but the point is that these bands are in a tremendous minority, amongst whose ranks few fit quite so well as does Haunted House, Loren Connors’ latest group project with his wife Suzanne Langille, alongside Andrew Burnes and Neel Murgai.
Reminiscent of The Birthday Party at their rawest, Connors, Burnes and Murgai employ guitars and Indian hand percussion to create what is an undeniably solid, yet continuously strange and shifting, structure, from the depths of which Langille’s wailing cries are allowed to resonate, always seemingly just outside of your grasp, lingering at the edge of your vision, but feeling all the more a presence for this, something transient a human to try to hold onto – albeit not quite a comfort – in the otherwise all-encompassing swell of evolving, but never quite abating, menace, which wraps itself about you, pulses through and becomes you, and refuses to let you go until the last note fades. When it does, you feel as though, much as with Alice’s own White Rabbit, you have chased a dream, stepped out and let yourself fall beyond all that is familiar and comforting and, by allowing the seeming disconnected currents of dream logic to carry you, have found your way back into the warmth of the sun again. Yet a sense of yearning is left with you, as though some small part of you has been exchanged for something altogether other in a not-quite-of-this-world experience that it is only fair to describe as genuinely sublime.
Sample this closing moment in the bonus track of Blue Ghost Blues, White Rabbit:
Watch Loren Connors perform live at NewIdeas MusicSeries early last month:
Blue Ghost Blues is out now, available direct from Northern-Spy Records or from Amazon: