andek actually exists. After 26 years and 40-odd albums of complete anonymity, save a P.O. box in Houston, Jandek made his first live appearance in late 2004. An obscurantist wept.
Now that he’s spent the principal of his myth, what does he do? A crack PR person would’ve yanked on his starched black shirt—“Listen, Johndick, quit while you’re ahead. You played your show. Now let’s get the board recording out. Let’s do a DVD too. You like that guitar? eBay it. Seriously, eBay that shit. You know eBay?” And what’s weird is that Jandek did crank out commemorative product; that first show, dubbed Glasgow Sunday, was released as a CD and a DVD.
But then he kept going. Against all mythmaking codes of conduct, Jandek peeked his head out from behind the door and then walked through the doorway. And he’s still as insultingly prolific as ever. Since October, 2004, he has released four studio albums and the live Newcastle Monday (one of the studio albums is actually a set of alternate versions of songs released only months earlier—Khartoum and Khartoum Variations).
So here’s Glasgow Monday, or alternately, The Cell—two discs of Jandek hoarsely meeping out early-morning piano ballads at the Center For Contemporary Arts in Glasgow on May 23, 2005. As with Glasgow Sunday, Jandek is flanked by free improv starlets Richard Youngs on bass and Alex Neilson on drums. But Glasgow Sunday was a rough, volatile set; Monday is the opposite.
Backing band or solo, studio or live, Jandek’s music is hyperbolically solitary. As a guitar player, he's fairly radical; he works in ugly, abused tunings and plays with a kind of cabin fever, as if his instrument was an abject part of him left lying around too long and now he wants to watch it suffer. His piano playing is at the other end of loneliness—naïve, meandering. But guitar is an easier instrument than piano to reinvent, and while Jandek continues to become a better guitarist, his bald Zazen key crawling gets tiresome after about 30 minutes. Youngs occasionally cuts a long drone underneath, and Neilson glints off Jandek’s ice with what sounds like bowed cymbals. I am very worried that these men get bored. Jandek wonders “What do I have?” and talks elliptically about microbiology.
The other day I was talking with Stylus writer Alfred Soto about my perennial predisposition against Bob Dylan. He smartly pointed out that the problem with Dylan detractors isn’t that they don’t like Dylan, but that “they spend more time trying to debunk the myth of Dylan than they talk about his music, and it only help keeps the myth intact.” I’m not scared of perpetuating Jandek’s myth. I like it. It’s crucial to his music, just like Dylan’s is. Either way, Glasgow Monday just isn’t as compelling as some of Jandek’s other records. Which is fine. By the time this review goes up, I’m sure he’ll have released another one.