[Jandek] Instal Review in the Herald

Matt Cowley madaco at gmail.com
Mon Oct 18 20:37:11 PDT 2004

>From http://www.theherald.co.uk/

Real instruments, it seems, are back in fashion among experimental
circles. At least they are at this year's normally laptop heavy Instal
festival, which has more guitars, more vocalists and fewer women
onstage than ever before. Spread over two days, its return to more
organic pursuits certainly humanises things, though whether it's as
radical as advertised is another matter entirely. Take Saturday's
bill-toppers, Current 93. Revered in goth circles they may be, but as
gorgeous as the Baroque string and piano-led score remained, once the
band's driving force, David Tibet, opened his mouth, his consumptive
air of Little Lord Fauntleroyesque English-drawing-room mimsiness
teetered on the edge of parody. Similarly, Sunday's final act, Vajra,
may possess the exotic allure of a Japanese alt-rock supergroup, but
they still sounded like Sonic Youth's leftovers. Compare this with the
soporific blue lagoon electronics of William Basinki, or the dreamy
acoustic, FX pedal-enhanced folk guitar and voice motifs of Richard
Youngs, and less, it seems, is most definitely more. Likewise,
Masayoshi Urabe's simian hobbledehoy saxophone extrapolations, Steffen
Basho-Junghan's gorgeous, John Faheyesque guitar pickings and Six
Organs Of Admittance's mournful dalliances, which could stand up with
any of the current singer/songwriter set. It's telling that most of
the real innovators on show are all over 50, while the new kids are
too much in thrall to a past they seem determined to recreate. If
Charlemagne Palestine's puckish piano improvisation was playing to the
gallery, Baby Dee's heartbreaking torch ballads were so fragile you
feared she might break across her piano, but nevertheless provided
Instal's most hushed and beautiful moment. A real coup came with
Sunday's unannounced appearance of legendary Texan musician, Jandek,
who's released 28 albums but, until now, has never played live.
Accompanied by Richard Youngs on bass and Lucky Luke's drummer,
Jandek's existential howls come on like a loucher, less histrionic
Birthday Party. A welcome slab of fire and steel in a still important
event that needs to get back to the future.

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