[Jandek] Response to Column: Resonant Frequency #45

Spencer Graham soccerdude219 at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 4 17:23:43 PDT 2007

Good points, Bradley, although I find your condescending beginning insulting. I'm 20 years old, I've been listening to/studying music seriously for only four years- god forbid I still think breaking the rules is cool/interesting and worth discussing. And anyway, what do you prove by mocking me? It's like that time I made fun of Danen for that book he wrote, just because I thought it was a dumb idea (which I should say I no longer do).  
  You're right about Conners and Licht- they did a great job. But I still think Jandek must be obnoxiously tough to play with. Is that a bad thing? No, but it means his live performances, like his records, are really inconsistent, from show and show, and from song to song. Is that a bad thing? Not really- after all, no one goes to Jandek "expecting" anything, and he's released more than enough material for fans to make their own best-ofs of. 
  oh and this:
  Concerning "I'll sit alone..."  ...  the recording mix of that
song reflects... an imbalanced consiousness.
  Yeah, that's probably what he was thinking, but it doesn't make the drums in the song any less intrusive or obnoxious to listen to. Come on, man- he could have done it in a less grating way and still gotten across that sense of imblanced consciousness. If he'd just played something that had some kind of rhythmic conversation with the lilting rhythm of the guitar, he could have kept the drums just as loud and still gotten that sense of thunderous depression mixed with whispering melancholy. I think the instruments in a song need to speak to each other, even if they're having an argument, and I don't feel like there's much of an exchange happening in that song, or if it is, it's not carried out very well. 
  There's a difference between artsy bad playing and bad playing. The bad drumming on "Interstellar Discussion", for example, is artsy bad. The bad drumming on "I'll Sit Alone" is just awkward- it works, sort of, aesthetically, in volume and feel, but it doesn't fit into the song, kind of like a puzzle piece that's the right color but the wrong shape. And it's just a result of Jandek's one-take, quantity-over-quality approach that a lot of his stuff comes out hit or miss (or in this case, near-miss). I get the idea and I let it slide because the idea is very good, but the execution leaves something to be desired. It's really Jandek's limitations as a musician that make him frustrating, because his ideas as an artist are usually brilliant. 
  And the live shows are a similar case- the other musicians are trying to have a conversation with Jandek, but he keeps changing the subject, and that annoys me. Then they have a transcendant tornado of sound for a minute or two, and I forgive him, and then he loses it again, and so on. Maybe he's commentating on his condition, his mental imbalance, that he vacillates between great understanding and total confusion over and over, and the rest of us are just gonna have to deal with it. Or maybe he just doesn't know what he's doing. Or maybe both. It's probably the third one. But I think it's a little childish to assume either the first or the second exclusively. Which isn't to say I'm accusing either of you of doing that, but it seems to be the tendency of many writers to assume that Jandek either doesn't know what he's doing at all or has a complete master plan, and perhaps it's because of how extreme his music is. But like any artist, he does stuff that works and stuff
 that doesn't, and like any good artist, he keeps moving. I'd love to have more discussions about what works and what doesn't in his various pieces- I feel like there's not enough critical evaluation of his music around here. 
  And Brian- I'll admit that I might not have called Jandek a douchebag if I'd thought it over a little more, but I like to grab people's attention, so I say that kind of junk hoping it'll make you'll read my more serious points. And once again, it worked.  
  I didn't hear the Richmond show, so I can't really comment on that one in particular, and I didn't mean to, but I've heard a lot of his other live stuff, and the comments made by the Pitchfork writer struck a chord with me. So far it seems like I'm in the minority opinion, but I'm pretty used to that. 

Bradleybee <bradleybee at yahoo.com> wrote:
  --- Spencer Graham wrote:
> That's my three cents. Let the debates begin! (If they must)
> -Spence

Yeah... Jandek breaks all the rules!!! He breaks every rule I
know of!!! He breaks rules I've never even heard of before!!! 
I even made up a few new rules and he broke THOSE TOO!!! Waah! 

If you are improvising with another musician, and the other
musician goes off into alien territory, that does not limit you
as an accompanist. In fact it instantly opens up an infinite
amount of other possibilities and avenues for you to explore. 
The accompanist does not have to "waste away" into silence (or
throw up their mallets in frustration, as it were) nor are they
required to hyperspace to Mars. Your success as a Jandek
accompanist/collaborator depends on your ability to improvise
without the safety crutch of musical aesthetic. I noticed that
Lorne Connors and Alan Licht didn't have any problem "warming
up" with Jandek. All three were spinning and floating around in
the air in no time. 

Concerning "I'll sit alone..." ... the recording mix of that
song reflects... an imbalanced consiousness. I can't even begin
to imagine the intensity and atmosphere that would have been
lost if that song were produced in a bland, by-the-book
arrangement. I would compare it to "Will to Love" from Neil
Young's American Stars N' Bars. If he had recorded that song
with a standard rhythm section & slide (like most of the rest of
that album) then it still would have been a decent song, but the
campfire crackle, vibraphone and whispered harmony vocal lines
give the song an eerie, unworldly aura. 

In conclusion, please do not wish to homogenize Jandek. The
recent live shows as "Applied Jandek" are fascinating. Allowing
audiences into the improvising/composing space is all the
compromise we want or need from Jandek...

ayche tee tee pee colon slash slash double you double you double you dot geocities dot com slash bradleybee

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