• jim o'rourke Happy Days (CD, £10.95)

    label: Revenant

    Happy Days, like its spiritual companion, the majestic Bad Timing, was originally released in 1997 and found O'Rourke making a new record for Revenant, which in no small part acknowledged the debt owed to that label's founder, John Fahey. In the liner notes O'Rourke cites both Fahey and minimalist icon Tony Conrad as direct influences on this single three-quarter-hour composition and you can certainly hear where he's coming from. For the opening few minutes O'Rourke plucks a single note over two octaves via his steel-strung guitar, before gradually beginning to embellish and form a fully fledged melodic narrative. Simultaneously, rasping drones rise up from the background, eventually taking over the recording altogether, acquiring a scathing line in overtones that propel the piece into brutal, tranced-out oblivion by the time it ascends to an increasingly cacophonous crescendo. The sustained intensity of it all drops away around four minutes prior to the end revealing O'Rourke' guitar once more, ushering in a steady, rhythmic finale that rounds off the recording much as it began. If you missed this the first time around and you're a follower of Jim O'Rourke's work, now is the time to get this album; there are only a handful of copies back in circulation and the Revenant label has now wrapped up its releasing/repressing schedule indefinitely, so snag yourself one while you can.

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