Tuesday, June 8, 2010

First Listen: Jandek, Canticle of Castaway

Here's album number 64 from the mysterious Texas recluse, although that description gets more and more inaccurate with each concert he plays. It's no secret that I like the live albums more than the studio ones recently, and the reason is simple. Live, the Representative from Corwood is forced to coexist with other musicians, making his dissonant, anti-rhythmic style fit with the often more straightforward leanings of his bandmates.

In the studio, he's free to do what he wants, and lately, that means he's free to meander on one instrument by himself, with little change in pace or tone. That's Canticle of Castaway in a nutshell - three long songs, totaling 53 minutes, just the man and his acoustic guitar. All three are languid, slow affairs (at least in comparison to songs like "Stay Me Here" on prior albums), and the whole thing is oddly hypnotic.

Of course, it's all teeth-grindingly dissonant, too, but after a while in Jandek's world, you get used to that. I don't dislike Canticle, I just feel like I've heard it before. The Rep has been endlessly inventive on stage, giving us suites for piano and synthesizer, explosive electric workouts and pummeling drones of noise. I'd just like to see some of that invention follow him back into the studio.

As usual, for more on Jandek, check out Seth Tisue's site at tisue.net/jandek.

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