Jim O'Rourke Insignificance

Jim O'Rourke's latest album didn't shock me as much as it could have. Having seen him kick out the jams once at a unique Drag City showcase, O'Rourke certainly proved he was at one with the rock. In the past he has explored the outer reaches of experimental guitar in collaborations with everyone from indie-rocker David Grubbs to improviser Derek Bailey to Krautrockers Faust, but lately O'Rourke seems to have also found solace through his brilliant pop albums, Bad Timing and Eureka, while also working with melody-centric pop acts like Stereolab and the High Llamas. Insignificance is another instalment in O'Rourke's exploration of classic pop song structure, with the additional infusion of hard-driving guitar riffage as heard on the killer Southern rock sizzler "All Downhill From Here," which kicks off the album. Other hints of Americana that permeate the album, like the driving electric guitar on "Therefore, I Am," or the folky acoustic picking and pedal steel on "Life Goes Off," might be connected to O'Rourke's recent work with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who turns up on a number of tracks here, too. Not that this is a traditional rock album by any stretch. Although based on sweet melodies and hooky riffs, O'Rourke's unique arrangements and instrumentation make tracks like "Memory Lame" and "Get A Room" brilliant and forward looking pop compositions. Insignificance establishes O'Rourke's own pop voice, albeit a very soft and nonchalant one, as a future classic in its own right. (Drag City)