Jump On It
Its been ten years since Bill Orcutt released A History of Every One, a compendium of hacksaw renditions of American standards on acoustic guitar and since ten years is a blink of an eye, you are forgiven for not immediately realizing that we've gone an entire decade waiting for Jump On It, the next Orcutt solo acoustic record. As those of us of a certain age will tell you (ad nauseam), a decade is a blink of an eye containing an infinity of experiential moments, and if this record is any gauge, the weight of those experiences have squashed Orcutts rough edges, feathered his stop-motion timing into a languid lyrical flow, and snapped the shackles tethering his instant compositional skills to the imperative to deconstruct guitar history. In short, Jump On It is a collection of canonical, mature acoustic guitar soli to contrast against the fractured downtown conceits of previous acoustic releases. For those paying attention to the arc of Orcutts electric records, which chart a course from Quines choppiness to Thompsonian / Verlaine-ian flow, it should be no surprise that the ten year gap between acoustic records should expose a similar underlying journey.
But whats maybe more surprising is that Jump On It, with its living-room aesthetics and big reverb, packs a disarming intimacy absent from the formal starkness of Orcutts earlier acoustic outings. Although you might sense the looming human in the audible breath whispering intermittently between chords (a physical flourish reminiscent of the late Jack Rose), such documentarian signposts are the exception rather than the rule. Not quite refuting (yet not quite embracing) the polish of revered watershed records by Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, or Bola Sete, Jump On It treads a path between the raw and the refined, exemplified in tracks such as The Life of Jesus and In a Column of Air that alternate swaying chords with Orcutts trademark angular quicksilver runs (cut brick-wall short). While you wont mistake Jump On It for incidental music, at least not if
taken at full strength, stray passages radiate a conversational beauty that would please the most dissonance-adverse listener.
Strangely, some of the melted lockstep grooves found in Jump On It evoke nothing other than Music for Four Guitars. While many of the linear runs are clearly improvised, and the phrasing distinctly slurred, intuitive and non-mechanical, the strummed chords hint at a cellular construction similar to Jump On Its electric predecessor. (Orcutt states that he prefers to keep his strategies obscure but that implies there is in fact a strategy).
Whatever the case, I also hear Satie in Music for Four Guitars, and I hear him here too, hidden within Jump On Its lilting repetition, which I easily imagine stretching to an infinitely-distant horizon. Like each of Satie's three Gymnopedies, each facet of Jump On It is a tiny miniature bound in a slim volume, an earworm you might savor again and again upon awakening or before drifting off. Each track is a key to a memory, a building block in a shining anamnesis leading to the recollection that hey, were all humans in a shared cosmos, and music is one way we might make that universe go down easy. And who wouldn't jump on that? Tom Carter