Jandek

Follow Your Footsteps

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AllMusic Review by

Once the idea of Jandek was established and interested listeners began to get an idea what the man was all about, it seems like most performers would become envious of the reclusive Houston artist. After all, the typical auditor of a Jandek product, except for those who have made up their minds that they simply aren't going to like him no matter what, would come to each album with expectations more than lowered. A typical situation involving listening to this artist's music would find a person wracking his brain attempting to figure out an intellectual interpretation of what is going on that would make it understandable as more than what it seems to be. Is it worth the effort? Well, there's really not much of an effort involved in listening to a record. Now, for example, the drums on the first few tracks, for the most part drowning everything else out, might sound like only one thing that many listeners would recognize, and that is the sound of someone who cannot play the drums. Yes, this has to be the sound of really bad drumming, badly recorded, and if it was anyone else's record it would be all over. It is not that Jandek or whoever else is playing has no sense of rhythm, it is that they just don't know how to play the drums. The artistic justification for this might be a momentary moment of pleasure when one realizes that maybe nobody has ever presented such terrible drumming or such casual music-making on record, but the cult around this artist would never have grown up if his musical output had been totally dominated by this drumming. Perhaps the real artistic excitement is not knowing what will happen each time Jandek turns on his tape recorder or presses a record, since the results can run the range from a masterpiece to utter garbage. The guitar strumming that he is really known for (and which dominates this record) is, on the other hand, really rhythmical and hypnotic, establishing the latter quality because he seems to only play in medium or slower grooves. "Preacher" is one such effective groove, yet the lyrics didn't seem to come to him. "For Today" is played on the strings inside the piano, a great move since it suits his rhythmic feel, with the sound of the strings endlessly reverberating adding a quality that really works here, despite how corny it can seem in so many other situations. The final track, "We're All Through," in which our hero begins and abruptly stops several different strumming patterns, turns out to be both an ending and an introduction to nothing, and is definitely one of Jandek's masterpieces.

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