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25 October 2017

Jandek - 'Six and Six' (Corwood Industries)

I guess this is one of the 'classic' Jandek records, as it sounds like an early Jandek record is supposed to sound, and the cover photo is iconic. Hailing from '81, Six and Six finds Jandek with an electric guitar, intoning over it slowly while picking some open strings in an erratic rhythm. And that's all it sounds like, moving through 9 songs, one in two parts, but really all one piece. It's a work of alienation, but aren't they all? Fragments of meaning come and go, there's a lot of 'you' in there and some stark images of animal and plant life about. 'Point Judith' is a work of total isolation, at least lyrically; musically, it sounds exactly like the other songs. I wonder how much Jandek worked out a complete artistic vision or how much he was making it up as he went along. For example, 'Forgive Me' mentions a "blue corpse" and six years later he put out an LP with that name, but I'm not sure if recurring imagery along is enough to create a mythology. The power in Jandek, if you find any, is that there's so little to grasp and it's completely unburdened by influence, yet it can be incredibly evocative. I must admit I haven't played this since the day I got it (at a yard sale for $3!), remembering it being an endurance test, but that this listen is occasionally sending chills through me, and from the strangest lyrics, too ("a label, a fable" ... wow!). The invariance of the guitar playing is astounding - though the track lengths vary, you could swap the music from any track with any others and it would be hard to notice; it's almost comedic the way the 10 minute 'I Knew You Would Leave' ends, and then after a track gap there's the sound of a tape recorder being turned on, and the guitar plucking starts up again. Sometimes I think Jandek actually has a classic rock and roll voice; there's a little bit of bluesy swagger to his intonation, like a Texas Mick Jagger with a bit of Lou Reed mixed in. Another observation tonight is how this music sounded so fucking alien and strange to me fifteen years ago, but now I've heard a lot of avant-songwriter types who sound just like this. An old friend used to say about bands like Anal Cunt: "Well, someone has to be Anal Cunt". I don't think that's the case here - no one had to be Jandek, and yet someone was.

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