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El más extraño enigma solitario en la música popular es un tipo de Texas llamado Jandek. Su álbum The Beginning acaba de ser lanzado en la etiqueta Corwood Industries , que ha puesto la marca en 28 de sus discos, y que de hecho no conoce a nadie más que a él. Ha sido acompañado por una reedición de su primer álbum, “Ready for the House”, originalmente de 1978 y acreditado a “the Units.” (es el único músico del proyecto, y todos los álbumes posteriores son acreditados como Jandek)

Jandek nunca se ha presentado en público (N.: review de 1999). Nunca ha concedido entrevistas, aunque un periodista de Texas Monthly lo localizó hace unos meses (conversaron acerca de alergias y jardinería, y amablemente le dijo que no quiere hablar sobre Jandek nunca más). Todos sus álbumes tienen una fotografía borrosa en la portada, de un hombre, partes de una casa o algunas cortinas. La parte trasera tiene su nombre, el título del álbum, títulos de pistas y tiempos, y la dirección de Corwood, siempre con la misma fuente tipográfica indescriptible – excepto en One Foot in the North (1991), donde utiliza una especie de fuente de restaurant chino. Eso es todo: es todo lo que sabemos.

¿Y cómo suena su música? Como pura desolación. Jandek no solamente es solista, sino profundamente solitario en la mayoría de sus grabaciones, recogiendo distraídamente en alguna guitarra afinada notas asarozas, gimiendo sobre nada particular, pensamientos, amor, dar vueltas por ahí, permanecer en el mismo lugar, sobre Dios…. Más allá de eso, sólo hay vacío. A veces suena como si estuviera internado en el más sombrío death-letter blues de los años 20, totalmente desmembrado, pelo por pelo. Sus canciones no tienen coros, ganchos, ni melodías, o ritmos, no tiene progresiones, pero como una inexorable tortura de la gota china, o como Samuel Beckett dice en The Unnamable:

Perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.

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Algunas personas que escuchan Jandek creen que es una especie de montaje – pero es difícil imaginar que una broma tan escrupulosa se mantenga durante más de 20 años. A la mayoría de la gente simplemente le resulta insoportable: ciertamente monótona, profundamente carente de belleza, en su mayor parte non-catártico y sin estructura en absoluto. Luego están las personas que casi no pueden soportar escuchar otra cosa durante días o semanas, obsesionadas con su misterio. (Me encuentro a veces en la segunda categoría, y otras en la tercera). Seth Tisue ha creado un sitio que cuenta con una extensa discografía comentada siguiendo los matices en la carrera de Jandek, describiendo canciones e imágenes de cada álbum. Sobre “White Box Requiem”, señala, es “catatonicamente inanimado y confuso… No es como Blue Corpse, que es un disco sobre la devastación emocional con algún tipo de perspectiva sobre ella, pero no necesariamente desde su interior. También es diferente de “Twelfth Apostle and Graven Image”. Sobre una de sus cubiertas, dice,

“Esta es una de esas imágenes por las que el laboratorio fotográfico te da un reembolso.”



Y aunque su trabajo es esencialmente de una pieza – los divagues desesperados de“They Told Me About You” (Ready For The House) y “I Never Left You Anyway,” (The Beginning) lanzado 21 años antes, pueden haber venido del mismo impulso creativo del atardecer, cada álbum tiene identidad propia, y su pequeña crisis de epifanía.

La pista del título de The Beginning es una improvisación de 15 minutos en piano, un instrumento que Jandek nunca había ensayado antes, aunque fuera de tono como puedes imaginar. Y de muchas maneras, “Ready For The House” es la clave para el resto de su obra: ha usado las líneas de su letra como títulos de álbumes posteriores (Staring at the Cellophane, Chair Beside a Window, Somebody in the Snow).

En comparación con la música pop “real”, las canciones de Jandek son terriblemente feas; en el contexto de décadas de persistencia, el alcance y la masa de su trabajo, se vuelve intensamente hermoso y significativo. De un absolutismo auto-expresivo puro, con desenfocadas y obscuras intantáneas de su vida adulta. Como le dijo al reportero de Texas Monthly, que le preguntó si quería que la gente “obtenga” algo de lo que estaba haciendo,

“obtener? no hay nada que obtener.”



Read the original Review Here

The longest-running, weirdest, loneliest enigma in popular music is a guy from Texas who calls himself Jandek. His album The Beginning has just been released on the Corwood Industries label (Box 15375, Houston, Texas 77220), which has put out all 28 of his albums and nothing else that anyone knows of. It’s been accompanied by a reissue of his very first album, Ready for the House, which originally came out in 1978 and was credited to the Units. (He’s the only musician on it; all subsequent albums, and the reissue, are billed as Jandek.)

Jandek has never performed in public. He has never willingly given an interview, though a reporter from Texas Monthly tracked him down a few months ago (they chatted about allergies and gardening, and he politely told her that he never wanted to be contacted in person about Jandek by anybody again). All his albums have a fuzzy photograph on the front cover, of a man or part of a house or some curtains. The back covers have his name, the album title, the track titles and times, and Corwood’s address, all typeset in the same nondescript font — except for 1991’s One Foot in the North, which uses a sort of Chinese-restaurant font. That’s it: that’s all anyone knows.

And what does his music sound like? Like pure desolation. Jandek is not just solo but profoundly alone on most of his recordings, picking distractedly at a guitar tuned to no particular notes, moaning in no particular key about thinking and love and wandering around and staying in the same place and God. Beyond that, there’s just emptiness — each off-key ping floats out separately into black space. Sometimes Jandek sounds as if he’d internalized the grimmest death-letter blues of the ’20s and is pulling them back out of himself, thoroughly dismembered, hair by hair. His songs have no choruses, no hooks, no melodies, no rhythms, no internal progression, nothing but the inexorable Chinese-water-torture plod of Samuel Beckett’s The Unnameable: “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

Some people who hear Jandek think it’s some kind of put-on — but it’s hard to imagine a joke’s being maintained so scrupulously for more than 20 years of recording and releasing and the same post-office box. Most people simply find it unbearable: it’s certainly monotonous and deeply unpretty and (for the most part) uncathartic and all but completely structureless. And then there are the people who can hardly stand to listen to anything else for days or weeks on end, who obsess over the mystery of Jandek. (I find myself sometimes in the second category and sometimes in the third.) Seth Tisue has set up http://www.cs.nwu.edu/~tisue/jandek/, which features an extensively annotated discography that tracks the nuances of Jandek’s career, describing each album’s themes and cover images. White Box Requiem, he notes, is “almost catatonically mopey and meandering . . . it’s not like Blue Corpse, which is a record about emotional devastation with some perspective on it, not from totally inside it. Also different from the weird detachment and diffidence of Twelfth Apostle and Graven Image.” Of one cover, he says, “This is one of those pictures that the photo lab gives you a refund on.”

The rewards of obsession with Jandek are discovering the variations in his oeuvre’s gray expanses that become, by comparison, as spectacular as cherry blossoms. On a few albums, a woman who might be named Nancy sings a bit (song title: “Nancy Sings”); occasionally, people wander in and play drums or another guitar, instruments that they don’t seem to have encountered before. Sometimes Jandek plays mostly electric rather than acoustic guitar; 1992’s Lost Cause includes a couple of pieces that are almost conventionally songlike, plus a 20-minute screeching blowout called “The Electric End.”

And even though his work is essentially of a piece — the despairing one-note-at-a-time meanderings of Ready for the House’s “They Told Me About You” and The Beginning’s “I Never Left You Anyway,” released 21 years apart, might have come from the same afternoon’s impulse — each album has a distinct identity, and its own little shocks of revelation. The title track of The Beginning is a 15-minute improvisation on piano, an instrument Jandek’s never essayed before, though it’s as far out of tune as you’d imagine. And in many ways, Ready is the key to the rest of Jandek’s work: he’s used lines from its lyrics as later album titles (Staring at the Cellophane, Chair Beside a Window, Somebody in the Snow), re-recorded its “European Jewel” multiple times, and made the template for his career out of its bold, willful disposal of everything about songs but their need to exist and to be heard. Compared to “real” pop music, Jandek’s songs are terrifyingly ugly; in the context of his decades of persistence, the range and mass of his work, they become intensely beautiful and meaningful. They are absolute, pure self-expression, an unfocused, unlit snapshot of his entire adult life. As he told the Texas Monthly reporter who asked him whether he wanted people to “get” what he was doing, “There’s nothing to get.”

o en Providence Phoenix writen by Douglas Wolk

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