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Jandek, "Glasgow Monday"

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You can either be wowed by the fact that this is his first piano/vocal LP in a series of 54 LPs, or by the fact that this is one of the outstanding releases of the year; this should be a compulsory listen either way. It’s unfortunate that the Jandek myth has swollen to such a ridiculous size that it’s coming between people wanting to hear the music. Those cranky elitist fucks that obsess over their reclusive prodigious artist are going to shit the bed over this double CD.

Corwood Industries

As with his previous two chronologically released live albums, Alex Neilson (percussion) and Richard Youngs (bowed upright bass) back him up, but this time he’s on piano instead of six strings. Gone is the harsh, serrated guitar sound and in comes a Satie-esque minimalist playing style. But where Satie’s lines are built on, and out of, melancholy and remembrance these bare piano lines seem to be more of the now, than of the past. This almost recital technique of playing is simple and endearing, but steers well clear of amateurism. Sometimes across the two discs the melody can seem incomplete, but that’s part of the design. The whole thing is one long suite split into nine parts (and a prelude); an extended selection of thoughts moving around a subject.

Vocally, he’s ditched the elongated howls for a spoken word style, it’s as if the words are carrying more weight than usual and are demanding this pronounced style. Like the vast majority of Jandek’s lyrics, they seem to work even better when read; the guy needs to drop a collection of prose in-between the next hail of LPs. The rumours that this release, subtitled The Cell, is Jandek dealing with / exploring a recent encounter with cancer, are totally validated by the lyrics. Buzzwords like ‘body,’ ‘blood,’ ‘virus,’ ‘cells,’ ‘result,’ and ‘mitochondria’ seem to raise their heads out of these songs about hope lost and found. When he says “I crashed and burned and phoenixed out of there,” it seems to be fit the idea of discussing remission in a lengthy narrative precisely. Unfortunately, every now and again he slips into “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” Shatner-isms, trying to force too much intensity into some lines.

Again the lack of credit for Alex Neilson (percussion) and Richard Youngs is a poor move, if he can be arsed to credit the venue then he should credit the two guys he played with. Neilson concentrates on bells and bowed cymbals, refusing rhythm and giving a very involved and delicate performance. There are some great moments where Youngs in particular totally syncs up with Jandek’s runs, his undercurrent of bass bows providing superb counter melodies.

It’s these live records that are pulling Jandek into the light, and I applaud the gall of the man to shatter his own myth by coming out. People have laminated and endlessly chased their tails over his non-story until the whole thing is just another redundant hook to hang the music on. These live discs are opening a whole other life for Jandek. Newcomers absolutely can start with this ongoing series of live releases, jump aboard here and feel free to totally disengage from the fanfare and whispers of his myth. Fuck the saga of the lone Texan; enjoy the music.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 February 2011 22:52  


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