Discovering Jandek

Following with today’s theme (which is apparently, weird music from the 80s) I thought I should spend a few minutes talking about everyone’s favorite weird/outsider musician, Jandek. It would be easy to misrepresent Jandek’s music. I’ve heard it called “Visionary”, I’ve heard it called “Utter Garbage.” I would argue that it’s neither, but it’s probably the weirdest music you’ll hear today.

For those not in the know, Jandek is the stage name of some weird, fairly private dude from Texas, who has released between one and three albums a year for … well, since 1980 or so. Jandek has released somewhere in the ballpark of 80 albums. At least one of those is a multi-disc box set, featuring 9+ hours of poorly played piano.

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He sells these albums direct to consumer through his website, for $10/each. Buy 20, and they’re half off.

With an 80+ album discography, where the hell do you start?

Well, if I may make a suggestion, let’s not start at the beginning. We’ll go there, eventually. It’s worth going there. Let’s not start there.

Let’s start things off with the track Time and Space from the Album You Walk Alone. You Walk Alone was Jandek’s 16th album, released in 1988. It was my first introduction to the legend of Jandek, and I think it’s a damn fine place to start. (For a deep dive in to the Jandek Discography, see Perfect Sound Forever)

This track, honestly, sounds to me like the Velvet Underground after a little too much heroine. It’s a shambling, bluesy song, with oddly delivered lyrics that seem to give an impression of meaning, without actually containing anything of substance. All the while, the band drones on with some basic blues riffs.

There’s something hypnotizing about it.

Up next is The Cat that Walked from Shelbyvile from the same album.

This track is similar to the last, but everything seems to be less in tune. The music drones more, it’s less harmonious, it’s more like what I’ve come to expect from Jandek. If you can listen to and enjoy this kind of thing, you may be ready to visit some selections from Jandek’s early career.

Last up today, we have I Knew You Would Leave from Jandek’s 2nd album “Six and Six”.

This is almost as raw as it gets. A man and his out of tune guitar, alone against the world. It’s mennacing, it’s scary, some days it is everything I want out of music. If that hasn’t out you straight off your lunch, Jandek’s first album Ready for the House is available on youtube. It features the same quasi-blues, played on oddly tuned instruments.

I think it’s important to note that I said that this was almost as raw as it gets. See, Jandek has also released a couple of spoken word albums. One of them features a half hour compesition called One Last Chance. Listening to that might just drive you out of your skull.

“I need another Chance / I gotta do it right / You Can Show Me How”


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Written on April 2, 2017