[Jandek] The Ruins of Adventure: Cover and Descriptions

Danen D. Jobe djobe at uark.edu
Wed Dec 20 23:32:13 PST 2006

So I've given it a few spins and finally sat down to transcribe the lyrics. 

It's quite a trip - could, in some ways, have been all recorded in a single stretch. His bass playing here is interesting, and often quite involved. Makes me wish he'd bring it onstage sometime, but who knows? He seems to be playing it similarly to how he plays the fretless guitar, including the way he strums the strings. But it being a bass, he stays in the lower registers and often plucks the the strings while sliding his fingers along the neck. That's what it sounds like, anyway.

Opening number "the Park" is a blast, and the one most related to the curious musings of "What Else Does the Time Mean?" He's going to build this park, see, but of course nobody's invited (save that ubiquitous "you"). We also find out that Jandek's a dog man. 

This leads into standout track "Bluff Brink." Remember those long bearded, Sufi-esque pictures that graced "Raining Down Diamonds" and "Khartoum?" Seems he must've been involved with the Sufis at some point, considering that this song is heavy into the whirling dervishes, etc. It also blasts monastic life, something that becomes a theme throughout the rest of the album. "I've got my own tornado and my own mountain" he says. Hysterical.

>From here the album pulls back into more vague descriptions. Is "Competely Yours" to God or a lover? A mentor? It's certainly got a religious overtone and deals, again, with stealing away from the world.

The last two songs are utter darkness, and one builds off the other. The rolling bass-line of "Mysteries of Existence"   highlight a track about a man "dancing the cross waltz." But that leads to the title track, where utter despair arrives. The church is cast out. Hell, everybody is cast out and the man spends fourteen minutes venting some vitriol, looking to explore the world yet ultimately trying to escape it, and then lashing out at those who've tried to get him to conform: "I won't give an inch to you, you rotten thing/ I won't fall in your hole" and the album ends on dissonance, rather than the often peacfeul endings to such albums. A sequel, in ways, to the themes that have run through the last albums, but particularly the religious notions of "Raining Down Diamonds" and the lack of resolution that made up "Khartoum." There is resolution here, but it's not pretty. 

The album, by contrast, is quite meditative. I enjoyed having it on both in the background and listening closely. His voice becomes a second instrument much of the time, and that howl often returns, though he's mixing it up, at times building steam in a lashing of lines that surprises me. 

Lyrics are following.
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