New Release Tuesday: Jandek's 52nd album is almost definitely less interesting then #s 1-51 | West Coast Sound | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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New Release Tuesday: Jandek's 52nd album is almost definitely less interesting then #s 1-51

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Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 5:00 PM

Previously in this series:

- SXSW Flashback: Even Jandek is a SXSW whore

- Discovering Jandek: his oeuvre & some typical Jandek jams

click to enlarge 080429_teenagekick_jandek.jpg

Don't tell me this multi-part critical/blogeriffic exploration of Jandek isn't timely. A week or so ago, the man in black -- by which I mean Jandek -- released his 52nd album, The Myth of Blue Icicles. I know this because I saw it listed in the email list of beloved San Francisco record store Aquarius Records. (No, Jandek's shit is not on iTunes except for an odd appearance on a compilation or two. Apparently Jandek is playing hardball with Steve Jobs, just like the Beatles and Radiohead.)

Here's an excerpt of Aquarius's review of the record:

JANDEK "The Myth Of Blue Icicles" (Corwood) cd 8.98

For a while there, we used to really try and keep up with the detailed reviewin' of new Jandek joints as they came out... but now that we, and he, are on his 52nd (!) record, it's tough. We still like getting a new Jandek cd, to get another shot of that one of a kind Jandek feeling (lonely, weird, confusional) and they're cheap enough, so we hope he keeps on cranking 'em out (pretty sure he will, based on his track record over the last thirty years!!) but having something new to say about the mysterious Texas troubadour isn't easy. Of course, he's not *quite* so mysterious as he used to be, with live performances (begun in 2004) now almost commonplace. The front cover picture on this one (a grinning red haired man, who now we can identify as Jandek himself in younger days, photographed against a portion of Houston skyline) needn't necessarily be read for signs and portents the way they used to, but his words and music remain pretty opaque.

Note the weary "our heart is not quite in this anymore" tone. The reception of Jandek's new releases among his most ardent supporters -- record geeks -- has become less and less welcoming over the years, revealing a few sad truths about the Jandek phenomenon.

One: In the internet era, anyone whose artistic aura depends entirely on mystery is going to have an entirely more difficult time sustaining that aura.

Two: Jandek's music, over the long haul, just isn't that interesting.

Also worth noting on this front is Jandek's full discography page at Forced Exposure, one of the earliest and most fervent distributors of Corwood Industries product. See if you can sense an evolution in that excitement over time as traced through the album descriptions:

The 4th album: "absolutely riveting"

The 16th album: "It recalls the savage beauty of Mr. Howling Wolf..."

The 23rd album "Haunting, eternal genius, continued."

The 30th album: "As with Put My Dream On This Planet, this is an all-a capella affair, recording in same hi-hiss/gated-silence ratio. Opening with a 29-minute track, it follows through with 11 shorter vignettes. I have no idea what to say."

The 31st album: "The 31st Jandek album, this is the third document in Jandek's new solo-vocal style, following Put My Dream On This Planet & This Narrow Road. The cover photo depicts our man wearing a sweater I wouldn't be got dead in, standing in front of a red barn. Your views of the farming industry might just change ever so much..."

Don't feel bad Jandek, they're just not that into you anymore.

After the jump, Aquarius's full review of Jandek's new jam, and some more reviews from Forced Exposure.

The Forced Exposure chronicles, continued:

The 33rd album: "The 33rd Jandek album. An acoustic guitar/vocal affair, with funny song titles like 'I Can't Leave A Clue' & 'Share My Life.' As they say at Googlism.com, 'jandek is jandek'."

The 38th album: "...third to be released in 2004. Guitar & vocals. Recently, Jandek played a show in Scotland and now we see that 'his representative' once had a beard, as shown on this stunning new album cover. The world truly is square and we're all about to fall off the edge."

The 38th album: "...third to be released in 2004. Guitar & vocals. Recently, Jandek played a show in Scotland and now we see that 'his representative' once had a beard, as shown on this stunning new album cover. The world truly is square and we're all about to fall off the edge."

And the full text of Aquarius's review:

JANDEK "The Myth Of Blue Icicles" (Corwood) cd 8.98

For a while there, we used to really try and keep up with the detailed reviewin' of new Jandek joints as they came out... but now that we, and he, are on his 52nd (!) record, it's tough. We still like getting a new Jandek cd, to get another shot of that one of a kind Jandek feeling (lonely, weird, confusional) and they're cheap enough, so we hope he keeps on cranking 'em out (pretty sure he will, based on his track record over the last thirty years!!) but having something new to say about the mysterious Texas troubadour isn't easy.

Of course, he's not *quite* so mysterious as he used to be, with live performances (begun in 2004) now almost commonplace. The front cover picture on this one (a grinning red haired man, who now we can identify as Jandek himself in younger days, photographed against a portion of Houston skyline) needn't necessarily be read for signs and portents the way they used to, but his words and music remain pretty opaque.

On The Myth Of Blue Icicles there's four songs in the typical Jandek mold of minimal, meandering (track 3, "The Daze", is over 14 minutes long), not-so-melodic outsider folk: Lethargic, stream of consciousness singing-talking, sounding pained and maybe a little drunk. Atonal, abstract guitar strum. Also pained and somewhat drunken. But for sure not jolly-drunken... this is all about emotively sparse, depressive atmosphere.

And it's a proper solo "studio" album, not one of the many live documents with avant-indie sidemen that Jandek's label Corwood has been releasing of late as well. Not that the distinction is terribly meaningful, since Jandek's live records feature all new songs anyway, and also any album with Jandek on it is indeed equally uniquely Jandek...

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