Jandek

Khartoum

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AllMusic Review by

In January of 1969, the Beatles, as is well known, recorded enough material to eventually yield dozens of albums' worth of stuff, bootlegged and otherwise. What's that got to do with Jandek? Well, by the time of this 2005 release, so many Jandek albums were coming out, and so similar were they to each other, that you might have suspected they were likewise taken from a marathon series of sessions, all cut in the same month. Although they probably weren't, they certainly aren't as diverse as the Beatles' Get Back sessions. Relative to his previous output, the most interesting and unusual thing about Khartoum is its title, presumably in homage to the Sudanese capital of the same name. Otherwise it's much like so much of what's gone before: wholly acoustic (as many though not all of his records have been), discordant rambles with agonized downbeat singing. It's the equivalent of an audio diary, but one in which there's no refinement of thoughts and impulses from the brainwaves through the vocal cords and instruments and onto the tape. Jandek was by this time leaving the impression of a man in a state of suspended animation, always seeming on the brink of suicidal despair but never pulling the trigger. Like the boy who called wolf, the incessant repetition has made it harder and harder to sympathize or take seriously what at first seemed to be a cry for help. "But everyone knows I'm unstable, since you went away," he moans in the title track, followed by a high-pitch sound between wailing and crying. Sir, when have you ever not been unstable, in front of a microphone at least?

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