Danen D. Jobe
djobe at uark.edu
Mon Dec 11 12:39:53 PST 2006
Where to start? Instrumentally this was like nothing I've seen. This has been discussed some already, but I think the thing that stays with me is how well it all combined. The extraordinary rhythm section laid down a rolling, bluesy back that stayed consistently through the show. On the other side was the jagged Godin fretless (glad to have finally seen it in action) and the bold counter of the viola. Between the two worlds strode the flute and glockenspiel.
Quick aside: before the show proper started we could hear the flutist playing "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from offstage. I started imagining the band coming out in tutus and dancing across the stage. Now THAT would've been different.
The female vocals were soulful and at times jazzy. They were in four songs (or was it five?), two of which were in a row. Interestingly, her songs often seemed like responses to his songs (I know he wrote all the words, but I mean figuratively). He had a song about watching "yellow, pink, and green things" come up from the ground. She responded by seeming to be that thing in growth. Later, he had songs imagining a wedding and a domestic life that didn't work - she seemed to be the angry bride. The last song seemed to leave the earth entirely, with her voice trilling out the word "moon" and imagining a type of escape. His number before that I'll describe below.
Her vocals changed throughout: er first number was a rhymed, country-like song, another was spoken word, others yet (like the last song) I couldn't categorize.
His lyrics, for the most part, were among the most expressive I've ever heard. If people often point to areas within the catalog where Corwood has left much vague, the vagueries have vanished. That's not to say that we're getting a life story, just that the images themselves are deep. The opening number (which has a LONG instrumental passage) painted pictures of a figure (could this be the same "other-self" from the Toronto show?) rising out of a creek but being "filled with sand." He described forest scenes and grappled with lost loves and the "shadow figure" throughout. As others have mentioned, the music shifted around from intensely brutal to atmospheric to even funky and two with a sort of country lilt.
The last four numbers may be among the best, and most chilling, of the catalog. He discusses leaving a bride-to-be (I got the feeling that the marriage hadn't happened) pregnant with child, choosing career over domestic life "working in a factory, family surrounding me." He talks about "talking to her father" who asks him to leave. He leaves Indianapolis on his motorcycle and never looks back. My God.
This leads to an imagined wedding, and ultimately to the last two numbers. His final vocal begins with reading a philosophical book that leads him into an intense dream. Suddenly, the words "leave me alone" rise in that ghostly voice, punctuated by the increasing instrumentation. The words are returned to, and at the end of the song (PERFECTLY!) The flutist threw down his sticks. The smile from Corwood tells me that this was just fine. I hope it was captured on the DVD. Then the female singer did the last number, escaping from earth.
In this show there was no comforting final number (like "Shadow of the Clouds" or the last song in Chicago) trying to find peace with a God or significant other. Yet it felt complete. It was a taxing show emotionally - the subjects were heavy but, again, descriptive - though so moving that the effort is rewarded. Will be glad to have this on disc so I can listen to the parts separately. As one whole it was astounding. And the surroundings were perfect - the gorgeous cathedral with the candles and lighting that matched the colors of the stained glass. This will be beautiful to look at when the DVD comes out.
I might also mention that the sound crew deserves serious credit. The mix was perfect, and the vocals floated over the music allowing the lyrics to be understood. The microphone seemed to catch no distortion at all.
I must also say what a wonderful place I found Indy to be. So very welcoming - enjoyed meeting some at both the Luna reading and Bloomington. I was also most pleased about a guy in Bloomington who came to my reading last night having never heard of either Jandek or me - just saw the flyer and was curious. He bought a book and then ran next door to Landlocked records and bought every Jandek CD they had. That made me feel good.
Sorry if this email is disjointed at all - drove all night from Bloomington back to Arkansas and back to school today. My God was it worth it. The man is working at his peak. Atlanta here I come!
I'd love to hear more Jandek music with a vibraphone.
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