[Jandek] Austin Sunday Review
lars.spurious at gmail.com
Sat Dec 1 09:30:30 PST 2007
Hungover on a Saturday afternoon, I have been going through old copies of
The Wire looking for Jandek reviews. There are surprisingly few (anyone know
where the others are?). Here's one of the CD of Austin Sunday. Compare the
review to the recollections of one of the performers, Nick Hennies here:
It'd be great to have a complete archive of Jandek reviews and features ...
Since Jandek ended his self-imposed, decades-long isolation with a Glasgow
performance in October 2004, he's maintained a positively hectic gig
schedule: from no public appearances in 25 years to 20 gigs in two. The
first three, each in a trio with Richard Youngs and Alex Neilson, have all
been released on CD. Austin Sunday was the fourth, recorded in Jandek's home
state if not his hometown, with the pick-up group of Juan Garcia (bass),
Nick Hennies (drums).
Their accompaniment is more deferential than that of Youngs and Neilson.
Consequently, Jandek's guitar playing is softer and less spiky, his vocals
calmer and his lyrics, as archly sardonic as ever, are half-sung and
half-recited in a voice that threatens to curl into a warble or sneer at
moments of import. The idiom, a loosely extemporised, detuned blues, is the
same, though more melodic and less tempestuous, its momentum less haphazard.
Jandek's reclusivenesss in the 1980s and 1990s created an excess of content
around his dozens of records, making them sound better than they actually
are. Similarly, the processes of Jandek reloacting his persona into a public
forum, and of so definitively solo an artist attempting to recreate through
collaborative improvisation a music at once intensely private and
overdocumented (the 49th Jandek album has just been released), are both more
interesting than the resulting music.
Both processes are best observed live. After the fact, the music loses much
of its impact. The group meander in and out of focus, drrifting between
passages of lucid interplay and of aimless and often tedious jamming,
hinting sporadically at meaning and emotional resonance, but most sounding
unconvinced they have anything of worth to communicate.
Wire March 2007
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