[Jandek] 'The Cell'

Jamie Morrison jamski at blueyonder.co.uk
Thu May 26 07:33:08 PDT 2005

Ok, here's my venture into reporting from Jandek's show at the CCA on
Monday. It's difficult to add much to Seth's and Ross' excellent reports,
but I'll give it a go.

The atmosphere was, indeed, something special - I've never felt like part of
an audience where the anticipation is so tangible, and the attention,
respect and appreciation so huge and universal... it was really something
special to be a part of.

Barry Esson's introduction included a mention that, despite the fact that
photography and recording were strictly forbidden, these may be made
available 'in the near future'. There was an official photographer who, to
my knowledge, didn't take *that* many shots, and two video cameras stationed
at the back of the room (who recorded all the performances, as far as I
know - I left not long after Jandek's show). Afterwards, we all fell silent
simultaneously, and stayed so for a full minute or two before Jandek came
onstage, followed by Alex and Richard (to no reception). The silence just
served to accentuate everything - every quietly intense emotion and feeling
elicited from Jandek's playing and speak/singing, every subtle brush of
percussion (Alex Neilson was a revelation throughout - a truly astounding
performance, with extra bonus points for utilising just about every
percussion instrument under the sun and just about every possible manner of
playing them) and every hypnotic rhythm underpinning the entire piece - not
to mention the continued reverence and anticipation following each song.

I was, as most probably were, very surprised at the nature of the music - it
was, as we were told it would be, very meditative, but above all the melodic
nature of the piano patterns and the thematic cohesiveness of the lyrics
were astounding, and rather un-Jandek like, it must be said. Despite this,
the lyrical strength and styles were undoubtedly his own - and, despite the
directness of the performance and the lyrics, the music (as well as Jandek's
own spectral persona), were as haunting as anything from his lonely, oblique
early career.

I have no doubt that, when 'The Cell' is released (assuming it will be),
it'll turn out to be Jandek's masterpiece, above everything else he's ever
done - and I can't wait to hear it again, as it isn't really a piece you can
fully take in first time around, I think. Incidentally, it was *exactly* 90
minutes long - so, a double album? Who knows...

My only minor gripes come from my own bad luck/foolishness (before the show
I squandered the seat nearest the piano for a more front/central location,
thinking it would be the best for photography/general viewing purposes - as
such, I ended up pretty much unable to see Jandek at all) and the fact that
sitting on the floor was uncomfortable to the point of distraction - would
it have been that hard to get a few chairs in there beforehand?

But, like I say, these are minor gripes - when the music's that good, it's
hard not to get swept up in it and ignore everything else, really.


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