Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

October 12, 2010

JANDEK, “Toronto Sunday” 2-cd set (Corwood 0803)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 5:25 pm


“Toronto Sunday”

2-cd set, Corwood 0803

$12 US/$13 elsewhere

ordering info from

Jandek: vocals, Korg synths

Nilan Perera (electric and acoustic guitars)

Rob Clutton (double bass)

Nick Fraser (percussion)

recorded 17 September 2006, Toronto, Ontario

The 2006 concert w/ Jandek on Korg synths, presumably the same show documented in the DUALITY OF SELF film. The Rep’s synth playing somewhat resembles his piano: wandering, haunting, a bit melancholy. The lyrics are poetic phenomenological observations w/ occasional Beckett-like questioning of existence and the nature of reality.

The mostly-spoken lyrics deal with “duality of self,” with a HE / I dichotomy, with deep existential concerns. The persona in the lyrics seems to have gone through some traumatic life event…perhaps surgery or a serious illness or accident (I’ve just listened to the album once and have no lyric printout)…and is wondering where he is/what he is/if he is. It’s as though there is a dialogue of sorts going on…despair and hope, life and death, lingering on the past and heading toward the future…and the synth work seems to echo/complement that dichotomy, that “duality of self.”

There has always been an important spiritual element to Jandek’s work. Once, when I had an opportunity to ask the Rep a question, I asked him about that, telling him that I really felt a sense of spiritual longing and a promise of spiritual joy in his lyrics, and he seemed happy that someone picked up on this aspect of his work and confirmed that those issues are important to him and to his work.

As I’m about 40 minutes into this album, it dawns on me what a “heavy” and important work this is. There is a somber undertone to a lot of the music, and Jandek is hitting the listener in the face with these life/death/meaning of life issues, and although much of the vocal is in the spoken-word vein, he fully inhabits the persona through which he is speaking, and the sense of discovery that the character is feeling comes through quite clear…and the qualities of fear and of yearning come through clearly also.

The trio backing Jandek are quite subtle and add a lot of shading and texture to the proceedings….the percussionist often functions the way Barry Altschul would when playing with pianist Paul Bley on a slow, languid piece, and the string playing of the bassist adds a human warmth and a chamber-music quality in sections. What an evening this must have been…I can’t wait for the film/video version of this show.

There’s no BS, no posing with a Jandek release (or concert), and how refreshing that is in this age (in the poetry world, that is, the world in which I work) of attitude over substance, of posing over content, of casual sloppiness over experiments in form and function. Simple packaging and presentation, 100% original and honest and unexpected content, completely UNRELIANT on anyone else’s work or aesthetic. What a privilege to experience this special, deeply meaningful and heartfelt performance. It’s an honor to live in a world where someone like Jandek releases albums like this…although it’s a shame that this music, which is actually VERY accessible, will reach hundreds or a few thousands instead of a wide audience.

An album I’ll treasure as long as I can hear, and which I’d remember vividly even if I lost my hearing.  A beautiful, essential release!!!

Get that check off to Corwood Industries today.

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