Earlier this month, word arrived of a new album by the musician Jim O’Rourke. To some people this will mean a great deal; to the other 99.99% percent of the population it will mean nothing at all. O’Rourke is an artist of mildly godlike status in extremely small circles, a veteran of free improvisation with nearly 125 records to his name whose biggest star turn was briefly becoming the fifth member in Sonic Youth and later producing Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born, which won a Grammy.
O’Rourke’s music varies dramatically, from plasticky synthesizer experiments to sprawling, orchestrated suites that sound like progressive rock played by a somewhat irritable marching band. He is one of those musicians whose admirers call him a "composer," as though what he does requires a level of thought and expertise that places him above people who just pick up a guitar and start shredding, which O’Rourke often does. (He is also the kind of prickly, restless musician who makes a record with guitars and then tells interviewers he doesn’t really like guitars.)