Gareth Dickson / Suzanne Langille / Loren Connors & Suzanne Langille / Loren Connors / Kan Mikami & Alex Neilson

To open Counterflows the beautiful and ghostly presence that emanates from Gareth Dickson’s guitar and voice sound world. Dickson’s compositions employ deft use of effects that tinge his old time finger picking style with a modernist angst. He has toured with a poignant array of mystic creatives: Vashti Bunyan, Devendra Banhart, Coco Rosie, David Byrne, but his own music strikes a most original note. “an artist of real originality… haunting” The Wire.

An intriguing duo set from American blues(ish) artist Loren Connors and singer/poet Suzanne Langille: him tugging hazy, twisted sounds out of his guitar, her half-speaking, half-singing dreamlike stories about eagles and leopards, soulful and vulnerable, murmured sleepily while the guitar pulsated like heat haze. Near the end of their set she drifted into Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child and he responded with jaggy, melancholic countermelodies. Lovely stuff. Kate Molleson, Herald Scotland

Loren Connors has improvised and composed music for about thirty-five years, continually charting new territory with the guitar and never “standing still.” His music, sometimes called avant blues, has been recorded on Northern Spy, Family Vineyard, Drag City, and other labels. In addition to his long-time collaboration with Suzanne Langille, he has performed with John Fahey, Jim O’Rourke, Keiji Haino, Thurston Moore and other artists, and with his band, Haunted House (which includes Langille). Thom Jurek (All Music Guide) writes, “Where the 12 bars are supposed to be placed are sparse notes and large spaces where notes, harmony, and melody once existed. Touch, sense, and aural interrogation are the only bones left on the skeleton of Connor’s blues.”

Connors and Langille performed together this evening. Despite their long collaboration, this was actually their first performance together in Europe.

kanmikami

Kan Mikami, the inimitable Japanese blues/folk legend of the Tokyo underground, whose full-body crooning was mesmerising to experience live. By turns sweet and gravelly, fitful and smooth, with a touch of Portuguese Fado to his soulful warble, his vocal finesse was stunning – even his screaming sounded somehow lyrical. With broad waves of energy and kaleidoscopic texture from drummer Alex Neilson and a guest appearance from Texan guitarist Jandek, this was a visceral, passionate collaboration, unforgettable to witness.Kate Molleson, Herald Scotland

Kan Mikami has been a singular figure in the Japanese underground since the early seventies performing his unique Japanese Blues. As anyone who saw his concerts here in the early days of Cafe OTO will testify – he is a completely mesmerizing presence on stage. It’s great to finally have him back at Cafe OTO for two days reunited with Alex Neilson – a musician who’s own adventurous playing stretches across genres, reinvigorating song with the same kind of freedom found at the core of Kan’s music, too. Also, for part of the set, Sterling Smith will guest on bass guitar.