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Jandek: He's Like Almost OK...

Everyone has a friend that makes grand proclamations on the subject of music. There’s always a someone willing to argue that Trout Mask Replica is and will remain the greatest rock album of all time. Of course, there’s no way to quantify such a statement, but it still seems inaccurate at best. And that’s where Jandek comes in.

The singer and guitarist has released some untoward number of records since the late ‘70s. And despite not receiving too much more than a few name checks from the rock cognoscenti, he continues to record and release music. At this point, though, it should be assumed that Jandek does all of this as a sort of therapy: a way to get the ju-ju out.

Considering Jandek rarely plays live – like pretty much never – commercial viability in his music is obviously not a concern. But even as one wades through the endless stream of full lengths emanating from this Texan, there’s a Cramps style stomp inherent in it all. Jandek doesn’t traffic in punk or rockabilly, but in some prehistoric racket that can’t be surmised in words. Writing about the strangulations he’s committed to record won’t be able to accurately relate the noises that are etched on cd or record.

Those record, though, have all been released through Corwood Industries. Of course, the fact that no one has any idea who runs that imprint or if it’s involved in other projects only further compounds the bizarre aura that surrounds not just Jandek’s music, but the man himself.

He’s been described in various ways by various folks over the span of a few decades. And probably we’d all be able to pick him out of a line up as a result of his visage counting as the cover-art to a great many of his releases, even while he remains ensconced in some normal life in Texas…maybe.

Too many to properly examine in one sitting, a few of Jandek’s ‘80s albums showcase a shifting skill and an (almost) embrace of sensible rhythms. 1983’s The Rocks Crumble as well as the following year’s Interstellar Discussion both feature the expected sound of Jandek’s guitar being attacked as much as being played. But on each of these albums, there’s a concerted rock beat every once in a while – that aforementioned Cramps style stomp.

Each consecutive version of “European Jewel” off of the earlier album includes a great sense of rhythmic veracity. The guitar in the first version of the song is bent with carrying the track, while the next recording of the song possesses a few pounded floor toms and cymbals. Finally, the last version of the song is lousy with drumming, approaching a minor league Velvet Underground. It’s not virtuosity incarnate, but neither is “Starless” from Interstellar Discussion.

This track too is imbued with some Velvet’s styled nonsense. But while listeners are indisposed as a result of trying to figure out what in G-d’s name Jandek is saying/singing, the album moves along to include a spate of other creepy rockers.

We won’t, most likely, ever be privy to a proper tour by this guy, but it would most assuredly be weird and worth whatever the tickets cost.