Monday, March 16, 2009
my favorite Jandek albums
Jandek - Modern Dances (1987) - "Painted My Teeth," which opens this record, is one of the most aggressive rock numbers in the Jandek catalog. The music is pulled to ribbons, there is an equally tune-agnostic female vocalist in here - making this sound a bit like a schizophrenic Pixies, like what goes down on a bad night at Nick Cave's house. He is thoroughly unhinged, bellowing over the unformed rock combo that trails him like a busted wagon hitched to a rabid mule, and yet there are moments of pop lucidity, like the little gospel stomp erupting during "Hand for Harry Idle." It's almost like the alien is trying to tell us something...
Jandek - I Threw You Away (2002) - Total blown-fuse ghost folk. The albums that all came out in the early 2000's are among my favorites because he seems to have settled into his darkness - he seems to have a tighter command of his instruments (which vary from guitar, bass and occasionally piano) and how he approaches them as well as the claustrophia he is trying to project. These came out around the time he started playing live, usually with seasoned improvisors, and I have to think that influenced his deal. "It's all I can do, Keep on keeping on" he moans in "Blues Turned Black", which in title and content can be seen as the essence of Jandek. This is compulsorily-made music as all of his music is, but once the veil of mystery was partially lifted by playing live with other people, the game changed and in this you find even the most incalcitrant of artist adapting to the situation.
Jandek - Blue Corpse (1987) This contains the pitch-perfect stalker love song "I Passed By Your Building" in the album of reasonable facsimilies to folk music. There is even a wrenched cover of "House of the Rising Sun" on here - maybe he'll play that tonight in New Orleans, though I am thinking a harrowing vivisection of Bill Withers' "Use Me (Until You Use Me Up)" would be exquisite. The deal is, Jandek is difficult music and you have to be willing to stretch a little to take it in, but its not completely foreign. These are still songs, sung from the same place that all songs are sung, its just that Jandek's songs have a few less filters to pass through before escpaing into the air.
Jandek - Khartoum (2002) I think this might be his finest hour, coupled with Khartoum Variations that followed it. The feral early years meet his more composed self on the metaphysical plane and duel for final dominance. The guitar work is hypnotic and pointalist, like if you put the Nick Drake catalog on a pot of scalding water and boiled it down to a quivering carcass. The half-moaned vocals never cease, like a a reflection trapped in the mirror endlessly begging to get out. Jandek is dark night of the soul music, but sometimes it takes a dark night to be able to really see things.