Jandek

This Narrow Road

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This Narrow Road marks the 30th release from this Texas outsider, who over two decades delivered some of the most unique and arresting private music to the underground. In the course of this strange and anonymous artist's uncompromising release schedule, he has presented a music that is as alienating as it is sublime. His cracked surrealist take on the singer/songwriter format is as sincere as it is sarcastic, and has the power to polarize his audience into two categories -- love it or loath it. While some obsessive fans will proclaim his genius, other listeners will dive for the off switch, finding his haunting abstractions too much to handle. At the 22-year point of his chronology, he is not making it any easier for any listeners. His first albums began with deconstructions of the blues, which were subsequently strangled in the '80s in favor of sleep-talking guitar and vocal musings; this new era is an entirely a cappella affair. His mutterings make Suicide sound comforting by comparison, and music as haunting as Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady" is simply pop in this universe. The recording begins with a 30-minute track followed by 11 shorter sketches; those who make it through will feel stronger and enlightened for it, and will discover something deeply intimate in these ramblings that is scarcely heard in recorded music.

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