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“The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt.”

“The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt.” published on 1 Comment on “The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt.”

One of my main musical fascinations in 2007 has been an artist whose work I was literally afraid to start listening to for a long time: a Texas recluse who goes by the name of Jandek, who has self-released over 50 albums of extremely singular and abstract music over the last 29 years.

I don’t know how to begin describing Jandek, so here are a few favorite quotes from the Guiide to Jandek (from whence the subject header comes) that I find particularly fitting:

“Every Jandek record is a letter as personal as it is anonymous. Listening to a new one I get the feeling I should not be listening at all… To study, analyze, and ponder over these private soundtracks is quite immoral.”

“It’s always difficult to tell how much of the Jandek oeuvre is the result of a psychological problem and how much is consciously constructed aesthetics. ”

“As it creepily gets darker, Jandek is the perfect accompaniment for making you feel that, yep, life really isn’t worth living. It’s not necessarily what he says, it’s the way he says it… But, there’s something strangely life affirming about the whole thing. That someone like this, with the ability to track down those dark corners of the brain can somehow get his art (or artifice) out there.”

“Jandek lives next door to someone far away, someplace where ‘music’ is an expression of emotion and not a packaged entertainment; made for self, rather than for an audience… There’s some sorta feeling trapped in the sound that I like to bask in.”

“It works, though I can’t figure out why. I get the impression that part of Jandek’s purpose is to confuse people. The album is absolutely ridiculous but I can’t stop listening to it… the muddy, distorted sound quality draws the listener into Jandek’s very strange world and MAKES him/her try to understand…”

“Rounded up into one big heap, all the Jandek records at once amount to an almost impenetrable thing… A demanding, invigorating, tragic, visionary work.”

“The absolute extremity of these deathbed blues suggests either an aesthetic pushed near its ultimate point or inhuman exhaustion.”

1 Comment

Some of my friends in Houston are big Jandek fans. One person I’ve met has even opened for him (though I don’t think she’s actually played with him.) I haven’t heard enough to try to wrap my head around it yet. (I haven’t given Daniel Johnston a shot either, probably for similar reasons…)

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