Release Date: Jun 24, 2016
Record label: Editions Mego
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Experimental Rock, Experimental Ambient
Christian Fennesz and Jim O'Rourke have collaborated extensively in the past, but only as part of Fenn O'Berg, their trio with Editions Mego boss Peter Rehberg. It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry is their first work as a duo, and it's a far cry from the playful improvisations of their group recordings. Sure, the album's Chicago-referencing title (extending to both of its sidelong pieces, "I Just Want You to Stay" and "Wouldn't Wanna Be Swept Away") seems humorous and ironic, but the music actually takes the sentiments at face value.
Christian Fennesz and Jim O'Rourke are both serial collaborators who use side projects to explore beyond the hallmarks of their solo work: O'Rourke to escape his pop leanings, Fennesz his fascination with drone and distortion. But It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry isn't so much a typical exercise in exploration as one in purposeful restraint. Built of just two extended tracks and a limited set of instruments, the album sounds like an attempt to see just how little these two avant-garde composers can do together.
Christian Fennesz and Jim O’Rourke are both romantics with different approaches. The Viennese guitarist and electronic musician Fennesz is an emotional maximalist, and he approaches his material the way J. M. W. Turner did his storm clouds: plowing straight into the squall, sails full, heart ….
The most intriguing recordings today blur boundaries among design, impulse, and happenstance, leaving us wondering which sounds were planned as opposed to captured or encountered. On It’s Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry, a joint album by Jim O’Rourke and Christian Fennesz, technological fluency channels emotional nuance in a performance that makes definitions of these terms moot. “I Just Want You to Stay” and “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Swept Away,” the two tracks that comprise the album, are driven by purposeful movements of pitch — contrapuntal passages and meandering microtonal fluctuations alike.
Fennesz and O'Rourke have been trailblazers and accomplished collaborators for over 20 years. They both have a degree of recognition within rock music circles, Fennesz for his digitally shattered shoegaze take on Beach Boys nostalgia, and O'Rourke for his work with Wilco, Sonic Youth and more. Despite somewhat accessible entry points to their catalogues, they also have some very noisy and experimental tendencies, perhaps most evident in their electro-acoustic improv trio with Peter Rehberg, Fenn O'Berg.
Christian Fennesz and Jim O’Rourke both have some long-standing success collaborating. They’ve both got their own brilliant solo work, but Fennesz also recorded a remarkable album with Sparklehorse for the In the Fishtank series, made the great Knoxville record with Davie Daniell and Tony Buck, and has made music with the likes of Sakamoto and (like O’Rourke) Oren Ambarchi. O’Rourke has collaborated with, mixed, or produced a virtual who’s-who of influential modern music acts, from Sonic Youth to Wilco to John Fahey the Sea and Cake’s Sam Prekop to Smog to you get the idea.
As confessional as singer/songwriters; as confrontational as punk. People have brought up St. Vincent in comparison because both are women and both wield guitars (sometimes noisily), but Annie Clark has never been this naked and poseless.
'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.
Christian Fennesz & Jim O'Rourke — It’s Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry (Editions Mego)It seems incredible, but It’s Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry is the first studio recording of two artists who have as much in common as Christian Fennesz and erstwhile Sonic Youth and Wilco member Jim O’Rourke. And yet it is. Well, better late than never. And the rewards for such a wait are manifold.Fans of classic Fennesz will find immediate comfort in the initial segment of “I Just Want You to Stay,” in which drifting synths find anchor in the Eno tradition of Another Green World and then build layers of casual, melancholic melody with the pair’s lovingly-tuned guitars plucking gentle, soothing melodies out of an ether of perfect ambient.