laiming to have been hugely into minimalism and avant garde music by the time he hit high school, Jim O'Rourke's stock took a blow in the credibility department with me. However, over his career in music he has proved time and time again that his influences are wide ranging and broad in scope, proving that maybe he is telling the truth and that his upbringing was made entirely of music and little else. It seems, though, that by this upbringing that O'Rourke would be burned out at some point, losing the fire that seems to drive him. It certainly didn't happen in the last month of this year, however, judging by the two releases that have come out. The timing couldn't be better, one thinks, because most fans were beginning to doubt the brilliance that he showed on Eureka, but with 'Insignificance' and 'I'm Happy And I'm Singing And A 1, 2, 3, 4' O'Rourke proves that he is still at the top of his game, dabbling in genres and executing to them to the letter.
On 'I'm Happy..." O'Rourke turns in a release for Mego that is a bit different from his label mates. The main difference being that it is not shrouded in a static haze. The melodies are, in fact, right at the forefront of the mix in the opening piece "I'm Happy." It starts with a revolving melodic sample of an accordion and quickly builds upon this initial piece to include derivations and permutations programmed on the Powerbook. The revolving structure of the melody brings to mind minimalist composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass in its apparent simplicity, but subtle complexity. It's eleven minute running time allows elements to be brought forward and backward and to stretch out to receive their full due. The melody is fast and moves ahead quickly allowing only for the next version of the melody to jump aboard, but the nicest surprise of all is near the end when the accordion cuts out, only leaving a soft bed of stretched tones to carry the piece to its inevitable soft conclusion. The accordion struggles underneath animatedly trying to break free of the bass that engulfs it, but eventually it fades away and the piece ends, finally at peace.
The second piece aptly titled "And I'm Singing" starts out with a clock watch that can barely tell the right time. Chaos ensues and it isn't until the bass enters that order can be restored and the piece is set on its way. It sounds to be made out of a piano sample and some other elements in the beginning, but, by the end, a guitar makes the final notes of the song, bookending the piece with a soft conclusion compared to the relatively fuzzy middle part. At times it seems that Fennesz may have had a hand in this piece, as it is oddly reminiscent in places of "Endless Summer."
In the third and final piece on the disc O'Rourke employs a string sample for his main building block. The elements are stretched out to almost the breaking point and create an almost lethargic piece that is slow moving and long, at 21 minutes. It is a nice soothing piece of ambience compared to the frenetic paces of the previous two works and, even at its length, leaves me wishing that there were more to listen to.
It's almost sad that O'Rourke is so good at his craft because he leaves genres so easily to dabble in others- classic rock: "Insignificance," avant rock: his work with Sonic Youth, and IDM: this album on Mego. It's hard to classify this as merely IDM, though, it seems to be more classical influenced than anything else, as though this has been composed rather than made. A highly recommended release, once again, from the increasingly fantastic Mego label.