Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I was digging around on the interwebs today to see what folks were saying about the upcoming Jandek show, and I stumbled across this thing I wrote on the blog in 2005.  It's funny how much things have changed in the past seven years.

January 2005

Jandek. I have a difficult relationship with the music produced by Jandek. It has been described as the music equivalent of being awake for two days straight and having the feeling that your nerves are frayed. I'd say that's a pretty accurate description and yet it doesn't even begin to prepare you for the sounds of Jandek. I had read and heard quite a bit about the man and his music, and I was still caught off guard. You can try and compare it to other music, but the only thing you can compare Jandek to is Jandek. There are people who try to sound like Jandek, but NOBODY sounds like Jandek. I question whether that is even possible to replicate the sounds of Jandek with honesty.

Despite my best efforts, I have yet to embrace Jandek's art. It has been said that if you don't get Jandek at first listen that you never will get it. I hope that's not the case. I try and try to absorb his music, but so far every attempt has been futile. So why, you may ask, do I keep trying? Where to begin...

Jandek has been putting music out for roughly 25 years, releasing 39 albums to date. Four of those came out within the last year. Somehow, despite this constant and determined output of music, he has remained completely enigmatic and anonymous. Nobody truly knows anything at all about the man. The main form of contact with him is through a p.o. box for his record label, Corwood Industries. If you write them you get a typed list of available Jandek music. If you are lucky you may get a handwritten response to inquiries made, but typically no interviews are granted by Jandek.

There was one actual phone interview done by John Trubee for Spin Magazine in 1986 (audio of which is on the DVD Jandek On Corwood. More on that in a bit.) and Jandek did give out some information about himself, but after that interview the doors closed. Occasionally people would make contact and Jandek would call or write with more than the standard single sentence. Those contacts are usually noteworthy within the Jandek circle of listeners as they seem to be fairly rare, and any honest to goodness contact with a man who is a virtual ghost is bound to raise interest.

Despite all this, this past October a man assumed to be Jandek (but only referred to as a representative of Corwood Industries) played his first ever live show at a music festival in Glasgow, Scotland. This news was both exciting and puzzling. Why now, after all these years, did he decide to perform in public? Thank goodness for bootleggers, because somebody had the wits to tape the performance. It is floating around in the shadowy world of P2P. What's even more remarkable is that after all these years of recording music alone, despite the occasional guest appearance of unknown persons, he performed live with two other musicians. How did he hook up with them? Did they know him before the show?

It's a friggin' riddle, and it sucks me in every time. I cannot resist the mystery of Jandek, no matter how difficult his music is.

Recently the DVD for Jandek On Corwood came out. In it there are interviews with music critics, fans, and people who have had contact with Jandek, and the only thing that they are sure of is that nobody knows anything about Jandek. Everybody speculates about him, but nobody really knows him. On the disc you can hear the full recording of John Trubee's interview with Jandek, and as of this writing it appears to be the only known recording of Jandek speaking. Beyond that, the people who appear dissect the man, the myth, and the music.

All of this means that I'm once again sucked in. Big time.

The thing that troubles me is that after I watched the documentary a few times, listened to the full Trubee interview, and we played Jandek's music on the show, I had a night of dreams where I met Jandek. I don't remember any of what he said (which, I suppose, is fitting) but I know that after every dream I woke up with this feeling that I'm not meant to be involved with Jandek. I felt like the dreams meant I should stay away. I don't really get sucked into dream analysis or any of that stuff, but it was hard to ignore the feeling.

So the next day I sent a letter off to Corwood inquiring about purchasing every recording Jandek has released.

How am I supposed to ignore something that triggers such a strong reaction? How?


P.S.: There's an excellent quote in the Jandek documentary that pretty much sums it all up: If you are willing to open the door without looking through the peep-hole, then you are ready for Jandek.

I  don't remember those dreams at all, but I have gone full on completist, that's for sure.  Good thing I didn't stick with that feeling that I'm not supposed to be involved with him!


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