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Jandek

The Myth of Blue Icicles

(Corwood Industries; US: 1 Feb 2008; UK: Available as import)

On The Myth of Blue Icicles, as on Jandek’s other 51 albums, you could say the guitar is out of tune, and that these four songs are wandering collections of noise without structure. You might even claim that they’re not even songs. But to make those claims is to assume that we know what “in tune” is, and what structure has to be, and—for that matter—all the ways in which something can be classified as a song. And what keeps Jandek’s music surprising—though its elements and tone are well established—is its ability to continually raise those questions. At the same time, it raises questions of authenticity. 


Since we know nothing of the man singing, since we don’t know if his reclusive nature is genuine or the product of a persona, we can’t claim these songs to be honest or dishonest. That being said, they sound awfully honest, the sort of honesty we don’t always want to admit to ourselves. Jandek’s lilting moan sounds equal parts hurt and quietly content, and though you can’t invent a key for the guitar notes he plays, each faint pluck of the string or hard-struck chord sounds like it’s a direct line to Jandek’s heart. “I walk and I stand there all at the same time,” Jandek sings on the 14-minute “The Daze”, and it seems an appropriate metaphor for a Jandek record. The album feels static and impenetrable as you listen, but in the end you can’t help but feel you’ve gone through something, that he’s revealed something new to you. Even if you can’t quite articulate what that new thing is.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


Tagged as: jandek
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