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Jim O'Rourke
I'm Happy And I'm Singing And A 1,2,3,4

Even if you don't own any of his albums, chances are pretty high that you've heard the name Jim O'Rourke if you listen to modern music at all. He's worked with Wilco and Sam Prekop and he's teamed up with everyone from Sonic Youth to Fennesz. He's literally dipped into so many genres and releases that compiling a discography with at least a mention of his name would probably be quite a chore. Although he just released what is probably his most solid album ever last year in Insignificance, he followed it up quickly with this release on the Mego label, and it continues in a logical progression from the last two minutes of digital manipulation of that last release.

Mego is the Austrian label that is home to electronic sound experimenters galore. Most of the artists on the label delight in deconstructing sound and music into base forms and building things up from the ground again. Microsounds collide ocassionaly with actual instruments, but it's very rarely without some heavy manipulation. Home to his aforementioned collaboration with Fennesz (Fenn O'Berg), it's a logical fit for these three long tracks.

The title of the release is actually split into three segments and subsequent song titles on the release. "I'm Happy" opens the release with a tonal melody that is soon layered upon itself until it becomes downright swarming. A low-end rumble elbows in about halfway through before the tones start sharding apart and completely fracturing for the second half as other warm low end rises up and finally overtakes it all. It's slightly menacing despite the title, but that soon gives way to the lovely fluttering beginning of "And I'm Singing." Again, the track drifts through several different segments, and after the beginning drops off for awhile before locking into what is easily the most structured part of the disc as again multiple layers of tonal melodies slide over and around one another.

Clocking in at over 20 minutes (half the length of the release), "And A 1,2,3,4" is the most gentle and amorphous of the tracks on the release. It unfolds ever-so-slowly, revealing only slight patterns in a quiet ebb and flow. Given the above, it's safe to say that if you're a fan of his less-experimental work, you'll probably find this release pretty trying. If you're someone who enjoys work by other artists on the label, though, then chances are you'll find things to enjoy here. It's less structed than newer work by Fennesz even, but there are some great moments if you don't mind waiting for them a bit.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00