In addition to his day job transforming pop music with his own records,
as well as those of Gastr del Sol, Loose Fur and Sonic Youth over
the past few decades, Jim O'Rourke has been contracted for several
dozen film scores over the years as well.
It makes sense-his abilities as an improviser, composer and
producer allow him to interpret cinematic moments with a unique
understanding for their construction and how they work. It doesn't
hurt that Jim's a well-versed cineaste, a complete and total fan of
watching films, which has given him a preternatural understanding
of the role of music in movies.
What doesn't make sense is how Hands That Bind is the first film
soundtrack of Jim's to ever receive worldwide release! He's worked
with filmmakers of international repute, like Olivier Assayas, Allison
Anders, Werner Herzog and K ji Wakamatsu! He served as music
consultant on Richard Linklater's 2003 laff-fest, School of Rock! He's
played in ensembles of award-winning documentaries and films alike!
Throw the guy an internationally-promoted soundtrack LP every more
often, why doncha?
It was left to the "suits" of Drag City Records to innovate, once
again, by taking a leap on an O'Rourke work. Made for an indie film
that's been seen by festival audiences and not enough others, the
soundtrack for Hands That Bind is a moody, atmospheric delight.
Jim's roots in composition via tape-editing have evolved into a sophis-
ticated assembly of found-and-processed sounds that achieve highly
musical, near-orchestral majesty as they hang in the very air of the
drama that unfolds in Kyle Armstrong's Hands That Bind.
Described as a "slow-burn prairie gothic drama" set in the farm-
land of Canada's Alberta province, and starring Paul Sparks, Susan
Kent, Landon Liboiron, Nicholas Campbell, Will Oldham, and Bruce
Dern, Hands That Bind is a spellbinding trip to the existential bone
of rural working life in North America. As conflict rises over the hard-
worked patches of land that provide a mere and mean existence, a
desperate air settles in, as a series of mysterious, often supernatural
occurrences rock the small community. O'Rourke's vaporous, ser-
pentine musical backdrops and atmospheres reflect the obsessions
and distractions of the film's principles; moods of all sorts seen or
otherwise implied. Additionally, the music highlights cinematogra-
pher Mike McLaughlin's closely observed accounting of the farmers'
environment, as well as the striking widescreen images of the big sky
country with unnerving flair.
For fans of Jim's ongoing steamroom series as well as collectors
of soundtracks, Hands That Bind will provide hours of engrossing
listening. And if you get a chance, see the movie projected in a movie
house, please-farmers aren't the only ones struggling these days!