Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Jandek, V

The Gone Wait (773)

Two records after the craziest, highest-pitched guitar skronk of his career, Jandek sings along to nothing but a bass, the ass end of frequency providing a heck of a bookend/counterpoint to the trebly first three in the series. The lowest of the low, an exhausted aural screed after Jandek has been swallowed whole by the Devil, a mic up to the dark lord’s belly as our boy is painfully digested for fifty million eternities before being shit out into an even darker hell. The drawl has lessened and the voice has faded off into the background, the weary resignation of the damned. Just stunning.

Sample lyric: “I don’t know what time it is, except the sun tells me now and then.”

Shadow of Leaves (774)

More bass and vocals on this one, except that there’s a lot more of the higher low-end frequencies. Way less subterranean.

An oblique reference at the end of ‘Find Me Again’ to protecting a cave- the same one, I’d be willing to wager, that Jandek rambles on and on about on ‘Worthless Recluse.’

This is one of those records with only a few cuts on it- the title track is just short of a half hour, and the other two tracks run six and five minutes, respectively. I’ve found that it doesn’t really matter too much one way or the other, in terms of my listening- when I put on a Jandek record, most of the time I’m just sitting there listening to it, not paying a whole lot of attention to what the tracks are called. A lot of his CD’s clock in at right around forty minutes, so I usually know what I’m in for.

Sample lyric: “I won’t drive my car the rest of the day. I’ll think about breathing.”

The End Of It All (775)

Every time Jandek puts a new record out, I send a check to the Corwood post office box. I always include a chatty letter, sayin’ what’s been going on with me- observations about the seasons, sports, whatever. And questions, of course- the rumor, long-standing, has been that if you ask yes or no questions, you’ll get scrawled responses back if he’s in a good mood. The first time I sent to Corwood, I asked if he had been to Boston. The response came back like this:

‘Yes have been to Boston.’

All right! The next time was right after the Patriots won their second Super Bowl, an evening I spend wandering around the city in various and exotic states of intoxication. I asked if he was a big football fan.

No response.


The next time, I thought that I’d go back to geography, and asked if he had been to my home state of New Hampshire. A pretty lengthy response:

‘Yes, White Mountains north of Lancaster near Canada.’

Right on! We were, like, corresponding and shit, you know? So the next time I sent this piece that I had written which made mention of how some of the trees had been scanned in on the cover of ‘Shadow of Leaves.’ Silence. The next time, more talk of sports, baseball this time, and a single word:


The time after that, I asked some question (so important that I forgot what it was) and received this:

‘Not certain.’

And then ‘The End Of It All’ came out and I was worried. Predictable, really, that I (and, for that matter, the rest of the Jandek community, all twenty or so of us) started to worry that #775 would be it, the last Jandek album. I mean, shit? What to do if these cryptic dispatches stopped cold? I’d have to get into like Keiji Heino or John Zorn or some such similar bullshit. Fuck! So I wrote a letter and asked if he was going to hang it up. And, like three weeks later:

‘No allusion- title.’

Phew! In fact, the lyric is ‘I said that I liked you, and that was the end of it all.’

There are references all over the album (which has some effects-laden full-frequency guitar- is it flange? I think it might be, though I’m not sure. Writers don’t have as many effects pedals as musicians) to the fact that Jandek’s not finished yet. He says that he’s happy, he feels so alive, doesn’t want to stop. It’s funny- the lyrical content seems directed at a woman, instead of being rambling to no one in particular like so much of the other stuff. The last song starts off with the bold proclamation that “I got at least one more thing to say- I’ll make you the first choice.” Doesn’t sounds so drunk, though his voice is certainly more deep than back in the day.

Sample lyric: ‘Who wants to stop? Not me.’


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