Monday, January 26, 2009

Jandek Reviews, Pt. 2: Living in a Moon so Blue

As I mentioned in my review of Six and Six, I'm anticipating a lot of these Jandek albums to sound very similar to one another. For now, I'll give a brief recap of Jandek's sound, but focus more on giving a brief description of how Living in a Moon so Blue (1982) differs from Six and Six (1981). The upcoming installments in the Jandek Reviews series will follow this general format (brief description of Jandek's style with a description of how the current album differs from those that came before it). Unless I come across an album that is such a departure that warrants a brand new, from scratch review, I'll stick with this format. On to the review of Living in a Moon so Blue:

Jandek's music consists of a single man playing guitar and singing. The guitar is out of tune, and played with hard, unpleasant plucking, rather than strumming. The guitar playing can be arrhythmic and seemingly random. Jandek's singing is usually a hushed whisper, a sort of speak-singing, but can at times rise into a strained, somewhat atonal singing voice. The lyrics tend to be of a stream-of-consciousness, surreal, and nightmarish style. His music is unpleasant and strange, but much like his almost nonsensical lyrics, there is deep emotional and intimate content that is as easy to feel as it is oblique and difficult to make sense of.

Broadly, Living in a Moon so Blue doesn't deviate too much from that description. It does, however, differ from Six and Six in some ways. Lyrically, the album is not as impenetrable. The lyrics are still oblique and personal, but they make more literal sense than Six and Six. The guitar work seems to have progressed a bit. It is still difficult, out of tune, and consists mainly of plucking, but it seems less random. A few songs even incorporate some strumming, but it is just as harsh and abrasive as the plucking (e.g. "One Step Ahead" started giving me a headache by the end of its 2:24 run time). At times, the guitar sounds like it is being strummed and smacked at the same time ("Crime Pays"). Just as the guitar playing has progressed a bit, harmonica is introduced as well, such as in the song "Alexandria Knows."

Overall, Living in a Moon so Blue is very similar to Six and Six, but includes a little more variety and is slightly more straightforward. But make no mistake, this is still harsh, unpleasant, and difficult music. Part of what makes listening to Jandek rewarding is having the patience to appreciate the subtle changes to such a simple and singular approach.


Molly said...

My god you're prolific! I haven't read this or any of the other posts you wrote while I was busy dying. I'll read them later. Just wanted to tell you how amazed I am. Good job!

Scott said...

Yeah, I had a busy weekend, filled with crappy movies and old music. I don't have anything else written for the time being, though. I certainly can't keep up this pace.