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Reviews

Christian Fennesz & Jim O'Rourke
It's Hard For Me To Say I'm Sorry Euan Andrews , July 21st, 2016 11:57

'I Just Want You To Stay'. Context is sometimes inevitable and necessary, half the story whether intended or not. It is a dank June evening, I am tired and sore from travelling half the length of the country and in need of bubblebath for the soul following a week of darkness and rain. It's Hard For Me To Say I'm Sorry gushes from the speakers like blissful sea spray, enfolding me in a warming environment which calms and gently soothes. I start to feel a bit more human and welcome in the world.

Some few nights later and I slip the disc on again. It is around 4am as I watch unstoppable events careen out of control and require a more cathartic soundtrack than the odious gurgles of besuited gentlemen and ladies crowing over false dawns and myopic visions of the world. Now, It's Hard For Me To Say I'm Sorry sounds like a different record entirely. It sounds like fury rammed up to boiling point, ripping and tearing at reality's skin like a sickly and desperate dog scrabbling frantically at a closed door.

The work of Christian Fennesz has often offered implied narratives in which we might base our own personal and subjective take on his music. 2004's Venice utilised the analogy of a city slowly sinking under the sea so as to reflect upon an ever more troubled continent drifting into uncharted depths. It was a record designed to make doomed romantics of us all, should we choose to be so, and Fennesz's subsequent string of collaborations, from David Sylvian to King Midas Sound, has continued that strain of elegantly bruised world-weariness. In Jim O'Rourke, Fennesz has a new and equal partner who also seems to understand the necessity of determining one's personal construct within a self-created story; the embodying principles of romanticism. While they have worked together in the past, alongside Peter Rehberg as members of Fenn O'Berg, this release marks their debut as a duo.

'I Wouldn't Wanna Be Swept Away'. So, two pieces of around twenty minutes length each. Like a hovering cloud of midges on an overcast summer day, from a distance both tracks resemble drifting amorphous formations, mustering and dispersing. but upon closer scrutiny (as in when your head is right in the thick of it all) teem with the frenzy of an existence which cannot stop everything moving all at once. The first piece is the more deceptively tranquil of the two; ambient surface temperature hazily bobbing up and down upon a deep aquamarine ocean as time seems to stretch toward the vanishing point where memories form prior to the events they seem to depict. There is a longing, held prism-like within O'Rourke and Fennesz's twanged strings and massed frequencies, for far off shores and unattained halcyon days.

The second piece begins in more melancholic fashion, the sea turned grey and threatening in its efforts to submerge us. A haunted distress beacon sounds lost and distant before being swiftly engulfed by ferociously ascending waves as we are, indeed, swept away. Dragged by implacable forces moving at furious speed, pushing us further out into uncharted territories where pasts, present and futures collide into a breathtakingly clear still point. The two pieces enhance and complement one another to make a combined whole. This is very much a considered and, with regards to its structure, composed body of work.

And as for the doomed romantic? Hungover and washed up on a deserted beach with those words lingering. It's hard for me to say I'm sorry. I just want you to stay. Wouldn't wanna be swept away. Words which hint of regret at paths not taken and choices wasted. So, the words become titles and in doing so become part of the personal ongoing narrative for both composers and listeners, providing context and meaning. The story continues somehow, even though the lights are dimming and the lounge is dark.

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