[Jandek] Really great Jandek write-up in The Stranger (Seattle)

Andrew Morgan andrewmorgansenior at gmail.com
Thu Oct 26 09:25:48 PDT 2006

Hi all,

Show is tomorrow night!  Still some tickets left, but this will sell out
before the start of the show, for sure.

Here's a well-written review/write-up in The Stranger:


Dream on This Planet
Jandek Escapes Obscurity, Remains an Anomaly

Growing up in Texas, the Holy Trinity there was of a different, more crazed
mettle. There was the Father, 13th Floor Elevators' Roky Erickson; and
although he often sang of Casper the Friendly Ghost, Daniel Johnston was the
Son. The Holy Ghost, that most untenable presence in the New Testament, was
a figure known only as Jandek. It was unthinkable that any of these men
would ever emerge from their chrysalis of crippling psychoses or willful
obscurity and engage with the populace, and yet predictability was never
their métier: Erickson's medication stabilized him enough to perform live
once again, while a revelatory documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston,
reintroduced the man-child to a new generation of Pitchfork readers and
art-gallery owners. There remained only the comfort that, at the very least,
we would never see Jandek‹his divine mystery would remain intact.

The 2003 documentary made about him, Jandek on Corwood, seemed resigned to
such a fate. Despite releasing over 40 albums of the most oblique,
bewildering, lonesome sound in the world of popular recording (to call it
music outright would be an affront to most sensible ears), there had never
been an interview or a live show, much less a picture spread. In much the
same way that Johnston's homemade white cassettes haunted every Austin
record store, the blurry Kodachrome of Jandek's record covers clogged the
bins of Houston record stores, sphinx-like and unsought. It was just his
singular discography and the impenetrable anonymity. Yet slowly, his eerie
disquieting sound seeped forth like a chemical spill, finding champions in
such purveyors of the weird as WFMU's Irwin Chusid and Forced Exposure's
Byron Coley, who championed the man as the authentic article in a music
world overrun with MTV idolatry, hype, and overexposure.

Detuned, deranged, and psychopathic are the most common descriptors for
Jandek's music, and as alien as such shambling, disintegrative music sounds
to outsiders, the world has beat a path to his door (wherever that is) in
many ways. When he released his first album, Ready for the House, in 1978,
it was a rare occurrence for an artist to press up his own music, though
this DIY approach grew in the subsequent decade with punk and hardcore.
Listening back to albums like Telegraph Melts, there are insouciant sneers
that run parallel to the punk scene, and on the stark Six and Six or The
Living End, he anticipates the by turns stumbling and harrowing songcraft of
someone like Cat Power. The intimacy of these albums, this persistence of
iconoclastic vision, now informs many in the New Weird America scene, from
Houston's own Charalambides (longtime zealots of the man's oeuvre) to
freak-folkers like Jackie-O Motherfucker and Wooden Wand. And yet his
peculiar tuning and hermetic rhythmic sensibilities also echo those of old
bluesmen like Lightnin' Hopkins or John Lee Hooker, so that in some ways he
is the last of the bluesmen.

Then, in 2004, the unthinkable occurred. At an arts festival in Glasgow,
Scotland, on October 17, Jandek took the stage. Clad in black with a
foppish, wide-brimmed hat, this man indeed was the culprit who had haunted
all those disquieting record covers. Pale and thin, his physicality matched
the skeletal music perfectly, his peculiarly tuned guitar fleshed out by two
of the most sympathetic experimental musicians on the UK free-music scene,
Richard Bowers on bass and percussionist Alex Neilson. He did not address
the crowd, he did not take requests, he did not make eye contact with his
collaborators, and he did not perform his greatest hits (and not just
because there aren't any), but a wholly unique set of songs.

The past three years have brought forth a gobsmacking profusion of not just
concerts but product, 11 albums in all and a concert DVD. The latest doubles
as his most achingly beautiful album thus far, the two-disc Glasgow Monday,
again recorded with Bowers and Neilson. Subtitled The Cell, bowed bass,
chimes, and tuned cymbals swirl around the man's piano suite that verges on
being as gentle and dreamy as Satie. Over its 90-minute duration, Jandek
haltingly whispers about a vague, Kafka-esque place that may be Guantánamo
Bay or something more along the lines of Fantastic Voyage. Here, before an
enrapt audience and band, Jandek still sounds like the sole inhabitant of
his own planet. 


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