“What?? is constructed from harmonic sounds. These sounds move into one another by means of enharmonic melding of the partials. I chose harmonic sounds because a pleasing richness results from them, but more particularly because the partials reinforce one another through their inner hierarchy and can thereby produce certain illusions.”
Folke Rabe explains in the sleeve notes for What?? that was re-released by Jim O’Rourke’s label Dexter’s Cigars in the late 90’s. Despite Long Night’s minimal sleeve stating ‘for David Behrman’ it’s also a very concise way to illustration the huge magic that hangs throughout this vast two-part 160-minute odyssey.
Long Night is an endless blooming of sound that’s been controlled so exactly that it births actual stargates. Even listening again in preparation for this article, I shake my head at the endless bristling spectacular nature of the whole thing. Imagine the ability to control sound so exactly, to hold it in a fixed point in space. And to then adjust an element imperceptibly so the whole thing gently animates continuously.
Of course, it’s highly justifiable to regard O’Rourke as one of the most important musicians of our time. His vast discography now includes almost 50 entries under his Steamroom series alone. Themselves, all broadly categorisable as extended electronic drone works, each exploring a slither of variations in the universe.
In a sea of material this rich, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by his output. But picking my way through the countless recordings I have; some do naturally float to the top. What particular form of subtlety, what tractor beam works best on your brain just happens.
I’ve always thought that Long Night as a title was a bit self-effacing, something to toil through. It’s also something that might be disregarded as an ambient soundtrack to sleep to. But trust me, stay up late one night, get comfortable in the darkness and give yourself to as much of this as you can handle. It’s a revelation.
Long Night is available as Steamroom 27