The enigmatic Texan named Jandek has released almost 50 albums in less than 30 years. That vast discography may seem imposing, but it actually allows for numerous points of entry. With such an unmistakably idiosyncratic style, any single album is about as good of an introduction as any other.
His most recent set of studio recordings, The Ruins of Adventure, is another unnervingly fascinating work. Sparsely arranged with only brooding ruminations over fretless bass, it is all at once uncomfortably intimate and oddly distant. Alone with his instrument, Jandek delves down into desolate places. It’s an uneasy tour over empty parks, suicide bluffs, doubt, dumb love, and callous lovers. Oscillating between song and speech, his voice pleads and gasps. When resignation takes him, it is palpably profound. There’s little variation and no reprieve as the songs stretch out over five lengthy compositions. His voice wavers and dives. His instrument rattles and plods. He gives up. He goes on. Like almost anything else in his discography, The Ruins of Adventure is an inherently incomplete yet sufficiently representative overview. It stands up well enough on its warbling own, but bolstered by the breadth of its brethren it assumes looming awe. Any adventurous listener looking for somewhere to begin with Jandek is encouraged to start here, or anywhere else, and work their way into one of the most insular and prolific aesthetic visions in the history of American music.
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