John Libby jwlibby at gmail.com
Tue Feb 20 20:00:16 PST 2007

For those of you interested:
I attended the Atlanta performance at the Academy of Medicine.  Being
somewhat new to Jandek, I probably can't offer too much in the way of
comparison to his extensive discography.  Nonetheless, here's what I
thought:  the arrangement was simple as he was accompanied by only a bass
clarinet, violin and percussion.  These three musicians were definitely to
some extent "following" him although I will say I felt that it wasn't
completely one-sided.  Occasionally he seemed to connect, but for the most
part it seemed to be the case of the other musicians in a more complimentary
role.  For the piano playing itself, it was an interesting contrast of a
musician both primitive and adept;  this man seems to have been inventing
his own language for decades.  On the piano, as opposed to what I have heard
of his guitar playing (again, from my limited perspective) it seems as if
the piano softens him up a little bit.  A guitar is just a noisier
instrument and can be detuned with the right/wrong strum, but the piano is
fairly stable itself to its tuning (unless you get under the hood, which he
did not, at least not during the show).  So, as a whole, the instrumentation
gave me more of an appreciation for the non-dissonant qualities in his music
than most of the tracks scattered about the internet have.  There seemed to
be sort of a central motif, musically with variations, and he would seem to
leave an idea completely, only to return to it somehow 20 min. later.  And
then there was one song that was a standout, this was the one where he made
it through the door (I'm getting ahead of myself), and it became more like
free jazz or something.  He would be playing within a set group of notes
(seemingly) random, and furiously, but only within those notes.  Then he'd
go apply the same to some other group of notes.  But for the most part, the
performance as a whole seemed to be less idiosyncratic than other music I've
heard by him.  Vocally, however, there was no "taming" and almost-falsetto
notes went up and down, and seemed to add the atonal quality in the absence
of the guitar.  It was interesting because he seems to hover in key, and
then just let the whole thing drop out, almost out of exasperation or
something.  Very visceral.  For the lyrics, I have no idea if these songs
exist anywhere else, or if they were new material.  There were about 7 or 8
songs presented almost as a suite, with the theme of breaking through a door
/ going through a door / escaping.  I did a search for the word "door" on
the lyrics page on tisue.net, and the word came up over and over.
Apparently one of his ongoing themes.  Somewhere between The Trial and No
Exit, but, again, it is almost like he invented this stuff himself in his
own world.  Overall it was one of the most interesting performances I have
seen and will definitely go see him again if he comes back.

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