[Jandek] Tiny Mix Tapes

Darin Mitchell susseddm at hotmail.com
Wed May 4 08:02:31 PDT 2005

From: http://www.tinymixtapes.com/articles/05.05.04-jandek.htm

Jandek on Corwood
How the unknown becomes a friend

by jspicer

By now the myth that is Jandek could devour an entire metropolis a la the 
Blob. Every stone that's been turned has provided little insight into who 
truly lurks behind the pseudonym. Although those in my shoes would have you 
believe that Jandek is the master of keeping to himself, that's far from the 
truth. He's plastered his face over dozens of albums covers, and he's made 
Corwood Industries- the company that has single-handedly birthed Jandek 
albums to the world through sleight of hand and a P.O. Box- an easily 
accessible business through the pen and paper. Just write the man, and as 
long as you aren't hoping to pry into his personal life, he'll be more than 
happy to return your query with a cryptic, almost Confucius-like wisdom. He 
took a large step last year, gracing a European stage with an unannounced 
performance, and he has another one billed for this calendar year. And of 
course, he gave his blessing to the minds behind Jandek on Corwood, the 
documentary trying to discover just who is Jandek the musician.

What makes Jandek on Corwood work is how the subject is approached. This is 
not guerilla storytelling. Director Chad Freidrichs doesn't go chasing the 
myth, nor does he seek out the origins and private life of Jandek. Instead, 
Freidrichs focuses on telling the story of Jandek and his music by letting 
Jandek's music be the focus of the story. Throughout the film dark shots of 
eerie landscapes, playgrounds, beaches, and small towns fill the gaps 
between interviews and lore. Jandek's brand of music is allowed to dictate 
the pace and the shape of the story, which lends itself to a wonderful tale 
of the power and effect the musician and his songs have on a variety of 

The music may function as the centerpiece, but a documentary would be 
nothing without interviews and insights from the cornucopia of people 
involved, either directly or indirectly, in Jandek's musical life. The most 
compelling interviews come from those who have had the most contact with 
Jandek and his music. Phil Milstein, who is admittedly a huge Jandek fan, 
wrote the first published review of Ready for the House for Op Magazine. His 
insightful review not only turned a handful of adventurous publishers and 
music lovers into Jandek fans, but it is the singular cause behind Jandek's 
release of more content. John Trubee is quite possibly the diamond in the 
rough within Jandek on Corwood. Trubee, who was recruited to write for the 
then-fledgling Spin Magazine, is the only person to be interview Jandek over 
the telephone. Excerpts from the conversation are used to explain a myriad 
of subjects from Jandek's unorthodox tunings, the origin of his name, and 
his musical joys (Jandek digs Tom Petty. Who knew?). If the excerpts aren't 
enough, the DVD contains the entire phone conversation, which is worth the 
rental/purchase alone.

Jandek fans and haters can find something to enjoy watching Jandek on 
Corwood. The presentation is crisp, and the subject isn't dissected so much 
as inspected. No matter how many performances Jandek plans in the future; no 
matter how many albums he continues to push out; no matter how many people 
see, hear or touch him, he will always be a living example of man overcoming 
image to create unique sound in his own private world. It's a world we 
should all respect and admire, and one that we should be privileged not to 
inhabit beyond the occasional dalliance into Jandek's musical catalogue.

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