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Jandek, "Glasgow Sunday"

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Only a couple of years ago, the mere suggestion that Jandek would ever come out of hiding to perform live at a series of festivals in Scotland would have seemed the height of absurdity. What a difference a day makes, and in this instance that day was October 17, 2004 at The Arches in Glasgow, Scotland, the place where the improbable became reality.

 

Corwood Industries

As part of the Instal Festival, Jandek made an unannounced appearance, referred to only as "a representative from Corwood Industries," in front of a largely bewildered but enthusiastic audience that included David Tibet and a few others in the know. Glasgow Sunday is the official live recording (MP3s of the show have been circulating for months) of the performance, released on Corwood Industries in a typically nondescript jewel case.

It seems that John and Nancy couldn't make it to Scotland, so in their stead Jandek played as an impromptu avant-rock trio with the amazing Richard Youngs and the equally great Alex Neilson. Youngs and Nielson have previously performed and released an album together called Ourselves, and since the early 90s, Youngs has been involved in more experimental projects than you could shake a stick at, most notably a series of ear-opening collaborations with Simon Wickham-Smith. Alexander Neilson is a drummer for Scatter as well as the terrific One Ensemble of Daniel Padden. Adding all this underground credibility and experimental musical heft to Jandek seemed a strange idea at first; I would have expected the performance to be a solo affair on acoustic guitar. The strategy pays off brilliantly, however, as Youngs and Neilson add an improvisational intensity to the man's skeletal guitar meanderings and tortured moans that seems a perfect fit.

According to Youngs and Neilson, who had only one opportunity to rehearse the trio, Jandek categorized all of his songs thusly: "Ballads, blues and brutals." The performance captured on Glasgow Sunday leans heavily on the latter two categories, with eight lengthy tracks of blasted-out blues, atonal free-rock and confrontational lyrical intensity. Neilson's drums and Youngs' bass crash, ricochet and buffet against each other in senseless cacophony, rising to several crescendos with Jandek's spindly, impressionistic, detuned guitar punctuations. It's true improvisation in the sense that Youngs and Neilson seem to be completely in the dark as to Jandek's next move; and can only relentlessly follow his lead and respond in kind to the man's frighteningly explosive melancholia. Though it is unmistakably the same Jandek from the last 40 albums, there is also something wholly new and fascinating about his performance here that is unique in the Jandek oevre. Though he must be pushing 60 by now, his music is as tense and uncompromising as ever. Those that have accused Jandek over the years of being nothing more than a painfully untalented loser (I'm looking directly at you, Irwin Chusid) must stand back and reconsider their opinion in light of Glasgow Sunday. There are many ways to describe music as emotionally charged, chaotic and unstructured as the music here, but incompetent and unlistenable are not among them.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 23 July 2006 12:34  


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