GIOVANNI DI DOMENICO / JIM O’ROURKE – Arco

Die Schachtel

Saturday night’s alright for overtones.

This relatively short work comes on vinyl but, as always in these cases, one hopes for a CD version – better sooner than later – to keep spinning ad infinitum. That’s right, you understood correctly: Arco is best savored in a cyclical mode, for it drones as gorgeously as a mantra from heaven. Taking shape from an unblended phrase progressively dilating its duration, the composition benefits from its geometrical clarity first and foremost. The strings intertwine without frictions, gradually spiced by O’Rourke slightly irregular electronics; they form a sort of random canon, keeping the tonality fairly anchored until a bass note emerges – typically breathtakingly – to shift the whole into another dimension. The electronic treatment provides a layer of doubtfulness in regard to the perception of certain flanging timbres which seem to elicit Tuvan ghosts; I’m almost sure that the ears are betraying me, the globality of the upper partials is indeed responsible for those imaginary singers (…is it?). The finale introduces a further element of “enhanced uncertainty”, all tones oscillating in a definitive affirmation of harmonic suspension. It’s all extremely human-sounding, never overwhelming, spiritually enriching beyond any string of ridiculously “cosmic” explanations.

The hype accompanying the release is somehow justified, but should someone have noticed the names thrown around the web for comparison, well – they are quite wrong in relation to what’s heard over here. Forced to play that kind of game with a gun pointed at our head, we would consider quoting the very O’Rourke (Happy Days or even I’m Happy And I’m Singing And A 1,2,3,4), or perhaps Duane Pitre, or – get this – Pachelbel’s Canon stretched by Eno in Discreet Music. Tony Conrad after a chamomile tea, anyone? Moreover, a couple of sections also evoke Reichian flavors circa “Violin Phase” and “Octet”, if you ask me. However, don’t let yourselves be detoured by futile juxtapositions and ignorant digressions. This album’s functional incidence is directly proportional to its own numerous merits.

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