Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Listen: Jandek, Portland Thursday

Do you believe this guy's up to 60 albums?

Jandek, as I've mentioned before, is a Texas musician who has been self-releasing his work since 1978. His stuff is not for everyone. It's atonal and depressing and completely improvised, and on first blush, it sounds appallingly amateur. But the guy knows what he's doing. I think, to him, music just sounds like this.

Album 60 is another live effort. Once a noted recluse, Jandek's been performing around the world since 2004, usually with local musicians, and ordinarily with a minimum of rehearsal time. This show was recorded in 2006 in Portland, Oregon, and features Sam Coomes on bass, Emil Amos on drums, and on one song, Liz Harris and Jessica Dennison on backing vocals. It runs nearly two hours, and if you think you can't take two hours of Jandek, you're probably right.

But I quite like this one. I originally described it as the Cure forgetting how to play their instruments, but that's not exactly right. The music is dark and spooky, made ever more so by Jandek's deep, reverbed guitar tone. Coomes and Amos lay down some interesting grooves, on top of which Jandek then slashes erratically, but in this context, it really works. These songs are long and sinister - the first disc is four tracks, and it runs 54 minutes. And on "Whose Mister is This," Harris and Dennison add a whole other layer of eerie.

Jandek's live albums always find him in new and interesting settings, and this one delivers. I certainly couldn't make a steady diet of this, but compared to some of the Rep from Corwood's other works, this one's riveting.

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