The first rule of Jandek is that he is extremely prolific. To the right you will note one of the creepy, barebones catalogs sent to interested parties by his Houston-based record label, Corwood Industries, clearly a vanity enterprise, albeit a frightfully prolific one. (See a full-size catalog here.)
The second rule of Jandek that you probably won't enjoy Jandek's music very much at all. Jandek's music is not about enjoyment. He typically combines truly odd blues guitar in unfamiliar open tunings, and mysterious voices warbling all over a fractured emotional map. Imagine the scariest variety of homeless street corner bluesman, one who has perfected his art: the sounds Jandek documents on his records are clearly intentional, yet it'd be nearly impossible to argue those sounds provide anything more than a voyeuristic peek into one man's unhinged psychic rollercoaster.
In the 20th century, Western culture grew accustomed to “ugly” art that was eventually accepted as revolutionary, prescient and — more importantly — relatively pleasant and emotionally accessible. Picasso, Jackson Pollack, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, William Faulkner, Bob Dylan, Ornette Coleman, Sonic Youth, et. al all fit into this category. Hell, we could even shoehorn in Bright Eyes if we wanted.
What are we supposed to think, however, of ugly music that remains ugly no matter how much we listen to it? I'm not sure. I'm just here to provide a sampling. For a relatively easy on-ramp into Jandek's art, let's start with a YouTube video for the prototypical Jandek joint, “European Jewel”:
Kind of sounds like Velvet Underground on quaaludes huh? (And yes, VU already sound like the were doing quaaludes.)
After the jump, more sonic pain from Jandek. Remember: no pain, no gain!
Second in our hit parade is a amateur music video featuring Nancy, a mysterious female contributor to the Jandek project, a woman sometimes purported to be a former paramour of the man himself:
Finally this great 45 minute mega-mix o' Jandek jammy jams. It's only for the brave of heart, and I'm not talking about Mel Gibson:
Previously in this series: