As if it's not enough for Jandek to be putting out four CDs a year, with Khartoum Variations he's essentially putting out an alternate version of an album he's already done (Khartoum, which preceded this one by just a few months). Even putting aside the very limited demand for alternate versions of Jandek songs, the very notion of "variations" is a laugh, considering that the singer/songwriter has such a limited palette of expression to begin with. The concept driving this album, however, really pushes the whole mindset driving his stranger-than-fiction discography too far. It's one thing to unleash a stream of dozens of extremely uncommercial, fairly unlistenable albums over a series of decades, as if it's an audio diary. It's another to revisit material that was, to most standard ears, probably not even composed or thoughtfully constructed in the first place. For those brave souls who can't get enough, however, Khartoum Variations does offer different versions of seven of the eight songs from Khartoum (one song on the "original," "Fork in the Road," is oddly missing). It seems entirely possible these alternates were done in the same sessions, or at least the same week; there's the same moaned-in-distress lyrics and discordant guitar work, though he seems a bit more apt to throw in rural blues-influenced flourishes, pinched high notes, and slides than usual. But even Jandek completists (and there are some such fans out there) may find their patience taxed, and judge the CD as superfluous.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger