Jim O'Rourke Hands That Bind (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Drag City
7th July 2023

Format Info

LP - black vinyl

O’Rourke’s process – sourcing resonant sounds to be enmeshed together into a music that supersedes their resident parts – makes a fitting soundtrack for Kyle Armstrong’s “prairie gothic” tale of down-on-the-farm horror way up north in Canada. His minimalist score inhabits the wide open, big sky landscape, flowing into suddenly-deep (and opaque) emotional waters, then panning out to a chilly omniscient remove. RIYL: Ambient, new age, mod comp

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 the construction of moments, and how they work. It doesn’t hurt that Jim’s a well-versed cineaste, a complete and total fan of watching films, the many hours of which activity have led to 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, Alison Anders, Werner Herzog and Kôji 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 highly musical assembly of found-and-processed sounds that achieve 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 farmland 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 hard-worked patches of land to 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, serpentine 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 cinematographer Michael Robert McLaughlin’s closely observed accounting of the farmers’ environment, as well as the striking widescreen images of the big sky country with unnerving flair.