Jim O’Rourke: all sounds, composition
Way before near-muteness became all the rage for today’s easy-to-please audiences – and for musicians who don’t need to study complex scores anymore to receive an ovation after the “concert” – there was a man, aged about 23 at the time, who was starting to enhance this listener’s predilection for noticing barely discernible acoustic quantifications. His creations were in fact born from total quietness, but luckily did not limit to that. The importance of Jim O’Rourke’s attempt to teach the art of attentive listening over two decades and a half has been generally overlooked, most chroniclers preferring to focus on his Sonic Youth excursus and pop-driven output, definitely more palatable stuff for the average onlooker.
O’Rourke is quite picky, both in musical taste and methods for producing riveting compositions. Four Views Of A Secret showcases various facets of his wisdom as a generator of prospects where barren, earthy, tranquil and portentous find a common path towards meaningful cohesion. The initial and final movements feature relatively tactile properties; a valuable organismic fragmentariness permeated by somewhat familiar snippets, still refusing us the permission to put any of our fingers on those fleeting glimpses of strangely lulling melody and concrete/environmental matters. The central sections investigate aspects directly linked with hush-to-puzzlement transmutations, highlighting harsher utterances (either animal or human, deftly altered in the studio) and impressive crescendos where a drone is not a mere trick, but the consequence of contrastive streams of activity that, for some miraculous reason, appear as belonging to a same tuning whose code lies somewhere in the universe. Slices of the third part vaguely recall Mirror, the duo of Andrew Chalk and Christoph Heemann with whom O’Rourke has collaborated in the past, a severely static church organ heavily characterizing the mix.
There you go: silences do mean much – but only when something momentous materializes between them. This release, if properly utilized, will assist in identifying an individual spot inside a world of faint auras, unfathomable creatures and psychologically rewarding discoveries. The place where we firstly learned that, in music as in life, “untold” does not necessarily connote a lack of cognition. A single, significant sound will always nullify a million words.