Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SHOW REVIEW: Jandek, Houston, 3/10

Sunday night's show should have just been billed as "Maze of the Phantom, class of 2012 reunion". If you haven't listened to the 2012 Jandek studio album of the same name, this will mean very little to you. However, if you, like me, purchased a copy of "Maze. . .", you will be able to recollect the very specific type of music played. For those of you who need to play some catchup (or think you know Jandek), click on the link above for a chunk of the Maze.

Sterling gathered all of the musians that patricipated in this album, under one beautiful roof (St. Paul's Methodist Church, in downtown Houston), and led a series of ad hoc pieces that could all have easily been alternate takes for Maze, albiet with the added treat of the church's cavernous reverberation. It was not a recital of Maze, but rather another stab at spontaneous collaboration, using all the mostly the same intstruments and all the same musicians. The only true difference between the original album and this live reinterpretation, was the fact that the representative from Corwood was propped up by a grand piano, rather than synth keyboard. 

The music of each player was a visual and sonic treat. Percussion was provided by James Metcalf, who was stationed behind an unconventional drum kit composed of various bells, woodblocks and more. Isabelle Ganz provided heavenly operatic vocalizations mixed with some entertainingly unusual, not-so-operatic vocalizations. Eric Avinger played flute and an electric guitar filtered, through, among many other effects, a volume pedal (think of some delicate Steve Howe work here) and some modulation pedals. The billing listed Eric's slot as "space guitar", which sounds odd, but, while it's hard to explain, if you listened Sunday night, it would not seem appropriate to list his contributions as merely "guitar." May Deyer played cello and sporadic harp accompaniment was supplied by an unnamed woman, who was not announced on the bill.

It was a magical collaboration that, while, to the vanilla ear, probably bordered on bizarre at times, was surprisingly melodic and majestic. Sterling did not leap to the fore too often but he had his moments. His work on the piano was far more subdued and melodic than what most people are probably used to hearing when guitar-hero Jandek (as I like to describe this persona) shows up.

Even though I love to hear Sterling sing, chant, -do spoken word stuff- and wish he had chipped in a few pieces of wisdom, this show was mindblowing and will sound great once pressed by Corwood. Judging by the normal rate of Jandek's live album output, it will be available for purchase in about 2018.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jandek quitely announces 6 pm Sunday gig

I only found out about this two days ago via an unceremonious email from Sugar Hill studios' Andy Bradely. But, really, finding out this way, as opposed to the usual Facebook notification or listing on Space City Rock, seems more appropriate, given the cryptic nature of the enigma that is Jandek.

Mr. Bradley kindly gave me the following information:


Erich Avinger-Space guitar and bansuri flutes
Max Dyer-cello
Isabelle Ganz-vocals
Mary Radspinner-harp
James Metcalfe-percussion" 

When I asked how much it would be to attend, he wrote me, "ten bucks." I hope to see some of you there.

PS If anyone has any idea what a "space guitar" is, would you be so kind to send me an answer by email? It sounds intriguing.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Bibio more rocky than I remember

I've missed Bibio almost as much as I've missed Caribou, for my fix of lo-fi, looped psychedelia. But this track definitely tides me over a bit. In fact, it's satisfying my Beta Band cravings too. 

The new track is surprising in that it features prominent vocals and less of a patched-together sound. The song is less of Bibio's usual experimentation with textures and spaciness and more of a cohesive rock/songwriting experience. 

Maybe Bibio's upcoming album (projected for May) will consist of more tracks like this: rock songs as assembled by a very non-rock artist. I guess we will know in May.

Listen here.