He has released handfuls of albums under his own name, participated in dozens, and produced even more. And yet, Jim O'Rourke is still capable of surprising even his devoted fans. Depending on how you came to O'Rourke's music (through Sonic Youth or Gastr del Sol, maybe even his free improv days, who knows?) and what you are expecting or looking for in this CD, you may be tempted to discard it after a first listen. Do yourself a favor and come back to it. The very deceptive title I'm Happy, and I'm Singing, and a 1, 2, 3, 4 hides one of the most beautiful albums of understated music that 2001 had to offer. The complete opposite of Insignificance, released only a couple of months earlier, this opus finds O'Rourke alone, sitting in front of his laptop. In 40 minutes and three tracks, he shatters tons of preconceptions about his persona and art. These long pieces (ten, ten, and 20 minutes) shimmer softly and stretch slowly, reaching deep inside you to plant delicate sounds. The last piece (it would have to be "And a 1, 2, 3, 4"), with its treated string sounds, feels close to Koji Asano's calmest moments, but also brings to mind Phill Niblock (the minimalist intention) and Oren Ambarchi (the fragility and melancholia). The first track focuses more on repetitive cycles, while the second is structured like a song and features a wider sound palette -- the only concession made to a more conventional form of expression. This album is not about glitch electronica and the coldness of machines, but is a surprisingly intimate journey, seductive and more fascinating with every additional listen. Strongly recommended.
AllMusic Review by François Couture
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2