Jandek

Telegraph Melts

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Jandek proclaimed himself Ready for the House on his 1978 debut; 12 albums later in 1986 he's ready for a garden party. A garden party Jandek-style unfolds somewhat as Jandek-saga followers might think, as the host's guitar emulates, say, the ratcheting action on a child's ray gun as it wanders its back yard firing spasmodically, while the mysterious John who's banged drums since Your Turn to Fall emulates, say, a homeless person shoving 80 pounds of crap in a shopping cart up a sidewalk broken into fissures by overgrown tree roots. Jandek's first friend Nancy presides over the top with her genial wail in the early going; a mysterious third voice that may be John, Jandek singing in a lower register, or an unknown would-be cult leader passing the garden party on his way to Gomorrah joins Nancy in non-singing "Chant with joy/Chant with magic/Chant with celebration." Except the chant is called "Governor Rhodes," and Governor Rhodes of Ohio ordered the National Guard onto the Kent State campus on May 4, 1970. Genuine levity -- a boot to the head for those who say Jandek lacks deliberate humor -- comes in a "Mother's Day Card," where the three voices stagger around a lyric probably pinched from Hallmark. But "You Painted Your Teeth" comes on right before, and teeth painting, while commonplace among the Si La of Laos and Vietnam, is perhaps the greatest sin of Jandek's crumpled, unmapable multiverse. Just a few albums later everyone else went home, or Gomorrah-bound. By 2001's solo voice Put My Dream on the Planet Jandek was quavering, "I'm ready for the house!" and the disjointed communal satisfaction of this record's "The House up on the Hill" must have seemed to its creator like a snapshot curling from long-departed summer heat.

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