Jim O’Rourke — Simple Songs ••– Neexistují žádné jednoduché skladby — jen prostí lidé. A protože zbraně nezabíjejí lidi, Simple Songs to budou muset udělat. Super–sladký terorismus našich vlastních posledních dnů života. Fantastická sbírka písní, celé to zní typicky od absolventa DePaul University* i jako studium symfonicko–rockových ambicí a studiové techniky mixování. Každý jeho nový projekt jakoby zdánlivě zamýšlel zmást fanoušky těch předchozích. Pan O’Rourke má encyklopedické znalosti v oblasti popu a to znamená, že je vždy o krok napřed před posluchačem. To rovněž znamená, že má pod kontrolou svůj osobitý (marker) styl, který spadá zde do říše Davida Bowieho ve “Space Oddity” anebo George Harrisonova “All Things Must Pass,” ale s větším než malým množstvím vzorků avant–gardy a chamber popu.
••– Jako textař rád zobrazuje vnitřní bolest, ruší tím běžně rozšířené zdvořilosti. Rozjímáním mladšího člověka v “Half Life Crisis,” doporučuje pravdivé posouzení údělu, “Cause you can tell from your face that you’re a charity case/And your debt is piling up.”
••– Jim O´Rourke je zároveň přístupný i vzdálený. Není typem písničkáře, vyhýbajícího se emocionálním zvratům až na ostří nože. Strukturálně je tu trochu ze světadílů jménem Van Dyke Parks, Burt Bacharach a Ian Anderson. Jsou to sice jednoduché písně, ne však určené skákajícím hokejovým prosťáčkům v O2 Aréně. Tonálně opakovaně udeří hřebík na hlavičku, pokaždé to vyzní pravdivě a mocně. Písně jsou záhadně otevřené, uzavřené ve své přístupnosti, vrstvené v kráse a bolesti a společně slouží jako připomínka, že konec je blízko. O’Rourke to vše dělá jako hračička se strukturou a formou, aniž by byla obětována dostupnost. Kdyby to bylo opravdu tak jednoduché, samozřejmě to bude dělat každý. To vypovídá o tom, že O’Rourke je jeden z mála, kdo to umí.
••– A leading guitarist and figure on the American avant–garde scene, who also contributed to indie records from Gastr del Sol, Sonic Youth, and Wilco.
••– You might not have heard of him, but the leftfield guitarist has spent over 20 years influencing — and evading — the mainstream, working with Sonic Youth to Werner Herzog Born: January 18, 1969
Location: Chicago, Illinois ~~ Tokyo, Japan
Album release: May 19th, 2015
Record Label: Drag City
Catalog: # DC620
01 Friends with Benefits 5:25
02 That Weekend 3:15
03 Half Life Crisis 4:42
04 Hotel Blue 3:21
05 These Hands 3:13
06 Last Year 5:47
07 End of the Road 5:34
08 All Your Love 6:22
© 2015 Drag City
••– Je to závan čerstvého vzduchu a to rozhodně naznačuje, že O’Rourke má mnohem více říci s tradičním formátem pop–písně. Což je prostě ohromující. Jak může být někdo tak nadaný, aby skloubil vlohy pro avant–gardu a pop — jako by Brian Wilson dělal nahrávky MERZBOW ve svém volném čase?
••– Vinyl LP pressing. 2015 album from the iconic experimental artist. The silence has been broken with Simple Songs — Jim O'Rourke is ready to talk to you again. First, he wants you to know he’s not dead–yet. But you’re not, either–and really, what have you done lately? Certainly not made your first pop album since 2001–and even if you had, it probably wasn't any good. Meanwhile Simple Songs is more than just a first of anything since whenever! It's an amazing record of musical song entertainment–because Jim O’Rourke knows what he wants and how to get it. Musically, that is. The rest of the world is still a mystery and a bottomless source of aggravation for the old boy. What do we care? We get a great new album out of it. Yes, Simple Songs is an album of songs sung by Jim O’Rourke all the way through! It has been ten years since Jim's voice rang out from a new album. What Simple Songs sounds like... At this point, the range of sounds and songs that have turned Jim’s head are numerous enough to have crushed together into something that is unmistakably his–the vast, glossy and glittering O’Rourkian (yes, like Kervorkian) wall of sound. The music’s got OCD quality, played so immaculately by so many instruments, and most of them by the creator's hand. This time's really the widest screen yet for Jim’s popular song–style, truly breathtaking.
••– DePaul University* je 13. největší soukromá univerzita Ve Spojených Státech, největší soukromá vysoká škola v Illinois. Navštěvovalo ji přes 16.000 studentů, bezpočet hudebníků, např. Ray Manzarek z Doors.
By Mark Richardson; May 15, 2015; Score: 8.6
••– There was a time, from the late 1990s to the mid–2000s or so, when Jim O’Rourke sat at the center of a peculiar intersection of experimental, indie rock, and electronic music. His name on a record was an assurance of a certain level of quality, and he had his name on a great number of them. During these years, he engineered, produced, mixed, and played on records by Smog, Sam Prekop, Faust, John Fahey, Wilco, Stereolab, Tony Conrad, Sonic Youth (of which he was a member), Beth Orton, Superchunk, Phill Niblock, and many more. In a suspiciously high number of cases, he was involved in one of those artists’ best records.
••– We’ve heard so much about the abuses of digital technology over the last five years — the compression, the brick–walling, the poor mastering, the lack of dynamic range. Well, O’Rourke didn’t do that stuff; in fact, he defined himself against it (he’s never released his solo work on mp3 and, in fact, only released his solo albums digitally at all in the past month). The music he worked on didn’t necessarily surface on radio, but it sounded fantastic in your living room. Throughout the period just before and just after the millennium, no one better exemplified the promise of what was then called post–rock — music steeped in tradition that also looked beyond it, integrating traditional tools with new technologies and exploring new contexts. And then, on top of all that, there were Jim O’Rourke’s solo albums.
••– Starting with 1997’s Bad Timing, O’Rourke has released a series of what are usually called his "pop" albums on Drag City. Not all of these have vocals (Bad Timing focused on steel string guitar and whimsical Americana, while 2008’s The Visitor is a difficult–to–classify proggy electro–acoustic instrumental suite), but O’Rourke’s Drag City solo records have threads running through them, from shared title inspirations to artwork to musical quotations from one album to the next. O’Rourke enjoys games and references and limitations that allow him to create a world where his music exists. Each album stands on its own but also feels like a brick in a slowly building wall. No two of O’Rourke’s solo albums sound alike; each exists in its own space. For Simple Songs, that space is firmly in the smart singer–songwriter world of the 1970s, the place where Van Dyke Parks and Randy Newman might be hanging out and drinking and telling dirty jokes.
••– When O’Rourke first sang on Eureka, his voice stuck out like a crumpled bag of Cheetos on Queen Elizabeth’s dinner table. Part of the charm of the music came from hearing a guy who could not sing gamely do so, voicing complicated melodies while surrounded by luxurious production. It made no sense and somehow, because of that, it worked. With Simple Songs, O’Rourke’s voice has deepened and become more gruff, and he sounds almost normal. There’s a timbral similarity here to Cat Stevens, though O’Rourke couldn’t have that kind of innocence and sweetness even if he wanted to. Instead, the lyrics are the usual mix of dark humor and misanthropy, with occasional glimpses of warmth. Album opener “Friends With Benefits” begins with “Nice to see you once again,” and it seems like he’s addressing it to listeners who haven’t heard from him in a while, but then he follows that with “Been a long time my friends/ Since you crossed my mind at all.” O’Rourke’s songs are saying real things, but they are also constantly subverting themselves, in love with pop–lyric tradition while pushing against it. O’Rourke is the kind of songwriter who titles a closing song "All Your Love", but makes the chorus “All your love/ Will never change me” and then cuts that sentiment with “I’m so happy now/ And I blame you.”
••– O’Rourke is always clever and funny, but the driving force in his music is the art of the arrangement. Many of the greatest pleasures on Simple Songs come from how certain instruments are layered together, how the chords are voiced and the harmonic progressions unfold. The songs, played by O’Rourke and a cast of Tokyo–based musicians, are generally driven by guitar and piano, but strings, pedal steel, mandolin, horns, and woodwinds are all featured prominently. There are gorgeous instrumental bridges and codas, like the one in “Half Life Crisis” that finds O’Rourke braiding a Fripp–like electric guitar lead and pedal steel around a violin line. Getting the mix perfect is supremely important; there’s never too much of anything, and nothing is ever buried. Midrange detail is prized over booming low end. Dynamics are powerful but not overpowering. Every instrument has its place.
••– All of which is to say that Simple Songs is a subtle record that avoids extremes, which also makes it a record out of time. It’s a record that asks you to come to it. If O’Rourke ever felt the need to keep up with every development in music, that time has passed. After moving to Tokyo in the last decade, O’Rourke has been a less central figure. He stays busy in music, art, and film, but much of his work doesn’t travel beyond Japan. He has his handful of obsessions, his rules, his limitations, and once in a while he returns and gives us a record like this, something that will be sounding good five or 10 or 15 years from now, or whenever the next solo record comes along. ••– http://pitchfork.com/
By NATE CHINENMAY 18, 2015
••– The rule of thumb for comprehending Jim O’Rourke as a creator of pop songs is to savor the exquisite details without getting hung up on a particular outcome. “Simple Songs,” his first singer–songwriter album in 14 years, has the arid lushness and prickly intentions you’d expect — but he doesn’t want you to get too comfortable.
••– “Nice to see you once again,” is his welcoming first line on the album, murmured on a tune called “Friends With Benefits.” He deflates it within the next breath: “Been a long time, my friend/Since you crossed my mind at all.”
••– What follows in the lyrics, against a bright wash of chiming piano, strummed guitars and rubbery bass lines, has the ring of a transactional relationship. “There are friends already waiting,” Mr. O’Rourke sings in his proudly rumpled voice, over a rock–samba beat, “for the space that you’re containing.”
••– Mr. O’Rourke, whose musical reputation borders on the cult–heroic — as a record producer, film composer, improviser and all–around guru — has lived for the last decade in Tokyo, a calculated distance from the scene that would claim him. If “Simple Songs” feels like a follow–up to his lauded 2001 album “Insignificance,” it’s also an extension of “The Visitor,” a meticulously orchestrated nonvocal album from 2009.
••– It sounds fantastic as a study in symphonic–rock ambition and studio mixing techniques. Mr. O’Rourke’s encyclopedic pop knowledge means that he’s always a step ahead of listeners. It also means that he’s in control of his style markers, which fall here in the realm of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass,” but with more flourishes of jazz–rock and chamber pop.
••– As a lyricist he likes to dole out barbs, or withdraw the courtesies he just extended. Addressing a younger person in “Half Life Crisis,” he recommends cashing in, “Cause you can tell from your face that you’re a charity case/And your debt is piling up.”
••– On the closer, “All Your Love,” Mr. O’Rourke sings: “Please don’t cry/I might enjoy that.” In the chorus he repeats the song’s title against a background that evokes sunlight through the clouds. But then: “All your love/Will never change me.” The arrangement ramps up and sprawls out, its layered grandeur presented as both a gift and a taunt. NATE CHINEN ••– http://www.nytimes.com/
BY ADAM KIVELON MAY 12, 2015, 6:01AM, SCORE: B
By Eric R. Danton, May 19, 2015 | 2:37pm | SCORE: 8.0
Sam Richards, Monday 18 May 2015 09.00 BST
John S.W. MacDonald, May 11th, 2015 11:39
••– Born in Chicago, Illinois, O'Rourke is an alumnus of DePaul University.
••– He has released albums of jazz, noise, electronica and rock music. O'Rourke has collaborated with Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Derek Bailey, Mats Gustafsson, Mayo Thompson, Brigitte Fontaine, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Merzbow, Nurse with Wound, Phill Niblock, Fennesz, Organum, Phew, Henry Kaiser, Flying Saucer Attack, and in 2006 mixed Joanna Newsom's album Ys. In 2009, he also mixed several tracks on Newsom's follow up Have One On Me.
••– He has produced albums by artists such as Sonic Youth, Wilco, Stereolab, Superchunk, Kahimi Karie, Quruli, John Fahey, Smog, Faust, Tony Conrad, The Red Krayola, Bobby Conn, Beth Orton, Joanna Newsom and U.S. Maple. He mixed Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album and produced their 2004 album, A Ghost Is Born, for which he won a Grammy Award for “Best Alternative Album”. During the recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, O'Rourke collaborated with Wilco member Jeff Tweedy and pre–Wilco Glenn Kotche under the name Loose Fur. Their self–titled debut was released in 2003 with a follow–up in 2006 entitled Born Again in the USA. He also mixed the unfinished recordings that made up a planned third album by the late American singer–songwriter Judee Sill, recorded in 1974 and mixed by O’Rourke for a 2005 release.
••– O’Rourke was once a member of Illusion of Safety, Gastr Del Sol (with David Grubbs) and Sonic Youth. Beginning in 1999 he played bass guitar, guitar and synthesizer with Sonic Youth, in addition to recording and mixing duties with the group. He withdrew as a full member in late 2005, but continued to play with them in some of their side projects.
••– In the early 1993, O’Rourke formed an avant–rock group with Darin Gray and Dylan Posa called Brise–Glace. The band released one studio album, When in Vanitas..., in 1994. They also released a 7” in the same year titled In Sisters All and Felony/Angels on Installment Plan.
••– O'Rourke has also released many albums under his own name on a variety of labels exploring a range of electronic and avant–garde styles. His most well–known works may be his series of releases on Drag City, which focus on more traditional songcraft: Bad Timing (1997), Eureka (1999), Insignificance (2001), The Visitor (2009) and Simple Songs (2015). The titles of the first four albums all refer to films by the British director Nicolas Roeg; the first three by direct reference to film titles, the fourth being titled after a fictional album within Roeg's film The Man Who Fell To Earth.
••– With music director Takehisa Kosugi, he played for the Merce Cunningham dance company for four years.
••– O’Rourke received a 2001 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.
Drag City discography:
••– Bad Timing (1997)
••– Eureka (1999)
••– Halfway to a Threeway EP (1999)
••– Insignificance (2001)
••– Tamper (2008)
••– Long Night (2xCD / 2008)
••– The Visitor (2009)
••– Simple Songs (2015)
••– Simple Songs (Drag City 2015)
••– The Visitor (Drag City 2009) Dedicated to Derek Bailey.
••– Corona / Tokyo Realization (Columbia Music Entertainment 2006) Japan only release. Dedicated to Tōru Takemitsu
••– Mizu No Nai Umi (vector7/HEADZ54 2005)
••– Old News Volume 2 (2002)
••– Old News Volume 1 (2002)
••– I’m Happy and I’m Singing and a 1, 2, 3, 4 (Mego 2001)
••– Insignificance (Drag City 2001)
••– Halfway to a Threeway EP (Drag City 1999)
••– Eureka (Drag City 1999)
••– Bad Timing (Drag City 1997)
••– Happy Days (Revenant Records 1997)
••– Terminal Pharmacy (Tzadik Records 1995)
••– When in Vanitas... (Skin Graft 1994)
••– Rules of Reduction (Metamkine 1993)
••– Remove the Need (Extreme Records 1993)
••– Scend (Divided Records 1992)
••– Disengage (Staalplaat 1992)
••– Tamper (Extreme Records 1991)
••– The Ground Below Above Our Heads (Entenpfuhl 1991)
••– Secure on the Loose Rim (Sound of Pig 1991)
••– Some Kind of Pagan (Sound of Pig 1989)