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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Jim O'Rourke/ Apartment House - Best That You Do This For Me [Another Timbre - 2021]

Here we have a long-form example of swelling-then-receding modern string composition. It’s composed by Jim O’Rourke (Sonic Youth, Illusion Of Safety, prolific solo work), with it been by played members of the respected modern ensemble the Apartment House. The work appears in the form of a CD on the always worthy/ interesting Another Timbre label- coming presented in their house style mini white gatefold packaging. 

The single and self-titled track on offer here rolls in at spot on the fifty-nine-minute mark- with the players been Mira Benjamin- Violin, Bridget Carey- Viola, and Anton Lukoszevieze- Cello. And it’s certainly a decidedly haunting, and at points quite intense example of simmering, slicing, and droning string composition. 
 
The piece is built around a series of building, then reducing patterns- which at points repeat themselves,  and at others go off in slightly altered states. It finds both amassed trio playing, as well, of course, more pared-back/ reduced playing- be it jointly, or singly. The patterns move from hovering drones, onto billowing scrubs topped with sour whistles, though to almost voice like wavering’s and sustains. As with any pattern-based composition, it plays nicely with ones memory, and course the growing-then-receding to silence flow of the whole thing creates a sonic equivalent of climbing a mountain, then dipping down in sparse valleys, before climbing once more- and of course, the whole structure of the composition rather messes with ones perception of time passing.
 
The patterns follow a narrow series of variations, but the way we get a blend of different mid and high pitches means it never becomes tiresome, or overtly repetitive/ bland in its unfold. We get a nice mix of simmering-to-hoover, shrill-to-forking, and warbling-to-billow structures. With the whole thing becoming rather compelling/ rewarding the deeper you get in, as you try to second guess what you’ll get next.
 
As you’d expect with members of the Apartment House- the playing from all three musicians is totally on point and masterful, with the most surprising/ enchanting moments occurring when we get the haunting voice like warbling sections. O’Rourke composition is rewarding in its rise and fall, with a nice selection of moods created by his work.
 
I can’t recall hearing any string-based work from O’Rourke in the past, and I must say Best That You Do This For Me is a rewarding example of long-form modern string composition. It would certainly be interesting to hear if O'Rourke and the Apartment House collaborate again down the road, and all in all another worthy release from Another Timbre.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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