Jim O'Rourke - Im Happy, and Im Singing, And a 1, 2, 3, 4 [Mego - 2001]Iím happy and Iím singing and a 1, 2, 3, 4 is a classic album of electro acoustic music from Jim OíRourke released on Mego in 2001. It features three tracks all fairly long and all displaying OíRourkeís unique style of composition and textural work.
Iím happy is a jittery computer composed piece that seems built upon samples of organ or organic sounds that are sequenced and resampled creating a quite melodic high stereo panoramic experience.
The repetitive motifs of tonality are augmented by deeper droning sounds as the simple melody is delayed and paned around the stereo field giving ever growing sense of space. Although this is "computer music" OíRourke's compositional style and use of space makes it infinitely more enjoyable than most of the horde of laptop electronica dullards around at the moment. As the piece reaches itís midpoint it seems as if the music begins to rewind on itself, the melody sounding as if it has been subtly put into reverse without anyone noticing, giving another perspective to this simple but highly effective tune. So much of what goes on in the world of electro-acoustics relies on processing gymnastics but here OíRourke shows what can be achieved with careful and educated use of delay, reverb and phasing.
And Iím singing is the second piece and works from a more concrete base than the pure electronics of Iím happy. The sound of chiming clocks and bells starts the track, and that leads into another short repetitive keyboard melody like the first track. This time other instruments are introduced into the mix, piano, some strings and metallic synth work also contribute to a much wider and varied sound pallet. Itís jittery and doesnít hang around in one place for very long. Melody and noise combine and break out resulting in short passages of concrete noise followed by some full on synth pop electronics. The way these disparate elements are sown together is very smooth and never seem out of place. The harsh mixes with the soft in a slow whirlpool of exuberance. The track ends amid a glitch mix of tones and clicking guitar plucks.
The last track and the longest is A 1, 2, 3, 4. At twenty minutes long this piece acts as more of a soothing relief after the first two tracks. Itís difficult to tell exactly what is being used to make the earthy glowing sounds that come from your speakers during this track. To me it sounds like a mix of processed orchestral sounds and feedback but I may be wrong. Whatever it is the result is a delicate drift of tones and textures that are like the first tracks built around repetitive motifs, although this time the motifs are a fair bit longer and so there isnít such a feeling of repetition. It sounds like a steel guitar may be used to add small flicks of light to the droning melancholy, the plucks falling like sparks onto a liquid miasma of progressing drones. Other more alien textures are introduced during the duration of the piece, some resembling flute or other wind instruments. Whatever the source material OíRourke has created, like with the albums other two contributions a fine alternative to the fast paced cut and splice atonality of much modern electro-acoustic music. And that alone makes this essential listening.Duncan Simpson