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Jim O’Rourke: Best that you do this for me

John Eyles By

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Jim O’Rourke: Best that you do this for me
Yes, that is the same Jim O'Rourke who was once a member of Sonic Youth, and was responsible for the awesome Nic Roeg tetralogy of albums on Drag City, among other milestones. One such achievement was that O'Rourke played for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for four years; as luck would have it, Apartment House founder and cellist Anton Lukoszevieze also performed with the company towards the end of their time, which brought him into contact with O'Rourke's music and, eventually, led to Apartment House commissioning the piece heard here, "Best that you do this for me (2020)."

This fifty-nine-minute recording of the piece features Apartment House members Luksozevieze on cello, Mira Benjamin on violin and Bridget Carey on viola, and was recorded in London, at Goldsmiths Music Studios, in November 2020. However, upon listening to the recording, it is soon evident that those credits do not tell the full story, as the players add vocal sounds to those of their instruments' sustained notes. In fact, O'Rourke's score includes indications that the players should sometimes whistle, hum or sing, combining with the bowed instruments, such sounds to be in unison with the harmonic or a fourth or fifth away from it.

That last instruction of O'Rourke's is significant, as his composition demonstrates that he values harmony highly; although the three players explore the full range of sounds that their instruments can produce, their overlapping sustained notes are always harmonious and combine together well into an integrated whole. The same is equally true once their vocal contributions are factored into the ensemble sound; the three show themselves to be competent singers, whistlers and hummers, able to maintain a true note for a prolonged period, thus making the trio sound like a larger ensemble when all three are both bowing and vocalizing. While the three instruments together make a most pleasant listening experience, the addition of the vocal sounds move it up a notch to a piece which radiates yearning, humanity and vulnerability. The end result is a piece to treasure and listen to frequently.

Track Listing

Best that you do this for me (2020)

Personnel

Anton Lukoszevieze: cello; Mira Benjamin: violin; Bridget Carey: viola.

Album information

Title: Best that you do this for me | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Another Timbre

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