Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jandek Mode

Jandek - A Kingdom He Likes, Lost Cause, Interstellar Discussion - I dug out my cache of Jandek recordings in preparation for seeing him perform tomorrow night in New Orleans. He was originally scheduled to perform about a month after Katrina hit and is just now getting around to the make-up show.


Monday, Mar 16, 2009 7:00 PM CDT
at Dixon Hall Annex - Tulane
Ticketweb link

Jandek's music, to me, is like Throbbing Gristle or Anton Webern or Albert Ayler or Philip Glass, once you get on that particular singular wavelength you really can't get off until you ride it through. He's someone I've been interested in, both the music and the mythos, for about 20 years now. It still seems improbable that I am going to see this master recluse perform. Here is what I had to say about him in my book:


One Foot in the North and Somebody in the Snow

There is outsider art and then there is OUTSIDER ART. Jandek is one of those capitol letter OUTSIDERs. I won't even try to explain his music/stuff since to do so only seems to mire oneself in hyperbole. The amazingly meticulous website managed by Seth Tisue does a much better and more comprehensive job. But this stuff is so out there, so off the map that once you've listened to a couple of his detuned spooky outings, its hard to go back and listen to "real music" I've been listening to it all day along with some of the other quirky guys I've been filling my headphones with. Jandek makes Daniel Johnston sound like ELO, Syd Barrett like David Lee Roth. This stuff is obviously coming from such a raw nerve place it realigns your ears. I can hear Sonic Youth without the rock-star trappings and the art-school defense of not-tuning your guitar, hear Will Oldham without the melodrama, I hear The Stooges with out the false adolescent bravado getting in the way of the panicked despair.The music is hard to listen to. His guitar is not out-of-tune, more like its doesn't matter if its in tune or not. It's out of phase with tune. He is grabbing this thing and trying his best to use it to demonstrate the firing synapses of a lonely man alone in his house, and in his head. See what I mean about the hyperbole factor? Kurt Cobain was a big fan of Jandek and summed it with, "Jandek's not pretentious, but only pretentious people like his music," and this is most likely true. But the way it hits me is that this is not poor naive Jandek who kicks out his off-tune little jams from his living room couch, but a guy that needs to sing songs, and the need is so urgent that there is no time and energy to be wasted on perfecting his technique, on learning the right way.. And this is so inspiring. I mean, on the MTV awards last night, every new "maverick" performer was either bringing their producer on stage or making out with their obvious role models in a declaration of dependence and direct lineage. It was as bloodless as watching the House of Lords on C-Span. When .50 Cent is your best stab at authenticity (and I like .50 Cent), your most real voice, things are pretty grim on the art front. Don't get me wrong, I like the pop music. It's just putting something like Jandek in the same category and comparing it is ludicrous. This is off-putting, unsettling, strangely beautiful stuff. After listening to two records worth this morning ("One Foot in The North" and "Somebody in the Snow") I was conditioned. I couldn't listen to normal music for the rest of the day. It all sounded forced and fake and pedestrian, like staring at an exposed beehive and then watching a "Family Feud" rerun, like eating an eel then trying to eat a Twinkie. Sure, the latter gives predictable, even enjoyable, results, but the former can change you if you let it.