Monday, July 20, 2009
Jandek - Six and Six (Jackpot LP)
Just in from Brainwashed:
It's no secret that Jandek is the oxymoronic title holder for most prominent musical recluse. With over 50 albums to his name in about 30 years of work, the musician has been as prolific as he has hidden. Only recently did he reveal himself to live audiences, beginning a welcome tour schedule that nevertheless has done little to diminish the mysteries buried beneath a quarter century under wraps. This, a reissue of his second album from 1981, presents for the first time since its initial pressing a vinyl copy of the album, which finds Jandek further refining his distinctly unrefined take on blues drift.
To call Jandek's sophomore effort a major step forward from Ready for the House—whose repeated guitar line carries throughout every song—would be a mistake. Indeed, the nine songs presented here all feature similar guitar ruminations as well, but with three years of work the album is slightly more dexterous in its interplay, even if the result is equally catatonic and harrowing.
The layout of the album is apparent from the opening, "Feathered Drums," which sees Jandek's detuned guitar abstracting the blues into a lonesome and highly individual interpretation. With his hollow vocals finding crevices in the guitar lines through which to sing his empty and cold poetry, Jandek's power is at once distinguishable, walking the cliched line between genius and insanity effortlessly and, better yet, genuinely. This is after all, like all of Jandek's albums, about as claustrophobically personal a music as anyone is likely to hear.
"I Knew You Would Leave" is the longest song on the album as well as its centerpiece, presenting over ten minutes of some of Jandek's most chilling and isolated dirges put to tape. Drawing out every line while his guitar punctuates certain statements with high-end twangs, the piece is utterly singular while still drawing on the emotional weight of so many other musical styles, like some twisted and dark Gospel sermon.
"Wild Strawberries" distorts the guitar line even more, proving a fine demonstration not only of how tight Jandek constrains himself in his forms, but also how much he manages to pull out of such similar material. With an almost raga-like quality, the piece glides and shifts instrumentally for an extended period before "Forgive Me" slows it down in favor of a solemn ballad. "You're the Best One" pulls as much from Gagaku and gamelan as it does folk.
Surely not an album that will win over any detractors, Six and Six is an impressive demonstration of Jandek's controlled vision. Utterly alone both in song and sound, the album is rich with depth that deserves deep and committed listening.