[Jandek] Glasgow Sunday Review (from popmatters): My Two Cents

Robertson Davis soccerdude219 at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 4 17:32:06 PDT 2005

"Jandek... seems to have no audience in mind..."
 I disagree. Jandek seems very self-conscious  and aware of his auidence's expectations as of late, very determined to preserve as much of the mystery as he can, and and very determined to live up to his reputation. If you want to know what I mean, check out some of the silly fortune cookie messages he sends to people: "You may not get all the answers you want- it's better that way" really sounds to me like he's having great fun playing "mystery man". Not to mention the fact that he's been sounding more and more like the way people like this guy describe him: catatonic, tuneless moaning set to an especially difficult tuning. Is it case of art imitates criticism, or am I totally wrong? You decide!
"...no relation to any trends in commercial music..."
Hmmm, this guy hasn't heard Jandek's "bad, bluesy lounge act period", I gather.
"Jandek's approach is idiosyncratic to say the least: No chords or melodies..." 
Again untrue.  There's lots of melody, though it may not always be melodic. "Nancy Sings" "Upon the Grandeur", and "Lavender" are all quite melodic.

"Put any of his albums on and you are immediately
transported to a utterly alien sonic universe devoid of any familiar
anchoring points from which you can begin to relate it to what you
already know."
Very untrue. Jandek's music, though often in an atonal tuning, isn't really as alien as most people think. Sure, it's out there, but calling it an "alien sonic universe" makes it sound like something much more inhuman than it really is. His lyrics are often very conventional, expressing the basic themes of popular music since the beginning: love, loss, self-establishment, etc. Granted, to paraphrase someone in the documentary, to a person with a collection of Backstreet Boys and Brintey Spears CDs, this reviewer's description is apt. Still, having just listened to "Upon the Grandeur" again, I can't help but think that such a characteization is misleading.  

"if you care anything at all about music as a form of the individual spirit holding out against the
increasing conformity and commodification of all aspects of life,  you'll want to hear him."
This I agree with; it's one of the reasons I originally found Jandek so inspiring.
"But now that he's made several appearances before crowds, he seems somehow reduced; no longer inscrutable in a cosmic, epistemological sense, he's just another garden-variety avant-garde musician with no mainstream recognition."
This is a provacative point. The release of the Trubee interview, the Vine article, and the combined efforts of this list have done a lot to dismystify Jandek's indentity and reasons for making music in recent years, and the shows have only increased it. At the same time, he hasn't really lost any of the intriguing qualities he's always had; they've only become more intriguing in light of these revelations. I'm happy to see the mystery die ever so much; I think got in the way of the music. 
"Glasgow Sunday is without doubt Jandek's most accessible album to date, the first one
that's readily assimilated to other rock music you might have heard."
Someone hook this guy up with a copy of You Walk Alone, please. 
"Glasgow Sunday is.... entirely uncharacteristic, providing a totally misleading impression of how the rest of his catalog sounds."
Again, untrue. I'd lump the album with his most recent stuff because of the vocal, lyrical and guitar style. Sure, the bass and drums are a change, but they're not too alien stylistically from their precursors in the Jandek band. I think Neilson and Youngs may have had Chair Beside a Window's rendition of "European Jewel" in mind during the performance, as they seem to be channeling the backup players' sensibilites on that track (with the exception of John's attempts at scales on the bass- Youngs preferred sliding up and down, nicely anchoring the music).

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