Pitchfork (Website) - "[T]he two musicians tease out their respective differences across two long instrumental tracks that are alternately luminous and blustery. It is an album about small details and big emotions, and when it works, the collaboration represents the best of their tendencies."
Recording information: Kobe, Kyoto, Tokyo (09/2015).
Photographer: Jim O'Rourke.
Christian Fennesz and Jim O'Rourke have collaborated extensively in the past, but only as part of Fenn O'Berg, their trio with Editions Mego boss Peter Rehberg. It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry is their first work as a duo, and it's a far cry from the playful improvisations of their group recordings. Sure, the album's Chicago-referencing title (extending to both of its sidelong pieces, "I Just Want You to Stay" and "Wouldn't Wanna Be Swept Away") seems humorous and ironic, but the music actually takes the sentiments at face value. These slowly evolving suites express loss, emotional confusion, and heartache in an abstract yet engaging way. Fennesz's signature guitar sound and laptop glitches are unmistakable, but there's a bit more of an unhurried drift to them than on some of his solo work. The tracks aren't meandering by any means, however. They're constantly flowing and changing, ranging from soft and pretty ambient waves to more turbulent clouds of static. O'Rourke's dusty slide guitar provides a nice counterpoint to the electronic elements, retaining an earthly quality while feeling spacious. Both pieces reach intense peaks filled with distortion, with blippy melodies shooting through the electrified haze. The album is too emotionally charged and abrasive to be accurately described as ambient music, but it still has a fair amount of calmer, more reflective moments. It's actually quite refreshing that the album feels a bit loose and messy rather than pristinely recorded and sterile, and the spontaneity and lack of polish befit the music's emotional rush. This is a beautiful, expertly paced release that logically fits in with both artists' Editions Mego discographies, both as solo artists and with Fenn O'Berg. ~ Paul Simpson