Perhaps tired of twisting knobs in the studio in the service of others, artist and producer Jim O’Rourke is taking a break from coaxing greater and stranger musical bedlam out of fellow performers as he prepares his new LP The Visitor, due out September 8.
Now at age 40, O’Rourke is still prolific and pressing the issue. According to his label Drag City, this new effort is more “song-oriented”, sharing less in common with his electronic experimentation on albums such as 2001’s I’m Happy, and I’m Singing than with a more instrumental album like 1997’s Bad Timing. Never content without tossing the occasional curveball, O’Rourke stretches The Visitor over one entire track.
O’Rourke, a member of Sonic Youth from 2000-2005, is best known for his work with Wilco, helping to orchestrate the sonic makeover they underwent on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and producing and winning a Grammy for his contributions to A Ghost is Born. When not working on his own eclectic solo career, O’Rourke finds time to produce albums for the likes of Joanna Newsom and side project Loose Fur, his band with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche. Says Tweedy of O’Rourke: “Working with Jim … really opened my eyes to something I had intuited for a long time but had not honored. And that is, musicians inspire and help each other. The best thing you can do is open yourself to their inspiration and creativity and learn.”
Luckily, O’Rourke has enough inspiration and creativity to move both his friends and himself into uncharted musical territory.