[Jandek] RDD review
jplee at cox.net
Tue Oct 11 07:33:01 PDT 2005
Jandek, "Raining Down Diamonds"
Written by Lucas Schleicher
Saturday, 08 October 2005
This is Jandek's first album since releasing the live document of his
performance with Richard Youngs and Alexander Neilson in Glasgow,
Scotland. I had feared that some of the mystery that made him so
appealing was going to disappear with his emerging worldly presence, but
Raining Down Diamonds is as baffling as his legacy and far darker than
one might expect from a musician who recently invited his audience far
deeper into his house than ever before.
In 2003 Jandek debuted his use of the bass on The Gone Wait. It was
described as a nice contrast to all the squalls and screams that he'd
been pulling from his guitar at the time. Two years later, Jandek seems
to be approaching the bass again, but in a confusing way as it seems
like both a bass and an acoustic guitar are being used on Raining Down
Diamonds. There's no mention of a second musician and, furthermore, the
two instruments mimic each other rhythmically throughout the album,
never faltering or falling out of sync with one another.
Jandek might have his guitar tuned down to create a muddy, bass sound or
he might actually be playing a bass. Songs like "Your Visitor" make it
very difficult to distinguish exactly what's being played and, at some
point, the two instruments seem to bleed together and dispel any idea
that Jandek might be employing more than one musician on this record.
The musical haziness is consonant with the lyrical topics. Jandek begins
with a statement so strong that it cannot be confused for anything but
the subject of the entire album: "I don't know where things are / It's
so dark I have to feel my way around." His voice drones low, imitating
the hum and ramble of the music, but it stands out among the throbs of
sound, punctuating the music and providing the heft of the album more so
than the instrumentation. The album contains a strange take on suicide
or death ("It's Forever"), a dedication to the food gods ("You
Ancient"), and the strangest love song in all of music. The album ends
with a kind of triptych; three eight-plus minute songs, one of them
being a new version of "Take My Will" and the other two being the kind
of Jandek that might freak some friends out if you played it for them at
night, under a full moon, in the middle of the woods.
"Your Visitor," however, sounds like Jandek trying to explain why he
loves someone. He's drinking wine and recalling his life and
simultaneously paving a new one ahead where he is waiting for his love.
His delivery is confusing because it's impossible to be sure of any
punctuation or structure; his voice simply buzzes along, full of
resonance and sadness. The last lines say everything about the Jandek
mystery and, at the same time, cast the nature of this love into doubt:
"You've got all kinds of every love / And your visitor lasts so long /
So listen and find me if you can / I'll be all around your loneliness."
I was so sure he was talking to me the first time I heard the record
that I had to restart it, I was afraid I'd missed something, like I had
a better chance of finding him because he'd performed at a concert,
revealed that he was the man on the covers, and even let us know that he
couldn't possibly have been a hermit his entire life. I was wrong:
Jandek is still hiding. He's receding and expanding and, in all honesty,
there's no knowing who he is or why he writes his distinct music.
Listening to Jandek, however, is fun precisely because he's been such a
damned enigma throughout his 42 albums continues to be one without any
apologies or signs of slowing down.
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