Sunday, 19 October 2008

Corwood 0790 - Jandek: "The Myth of Blue Icicles"

The latest studio release from Corwood Industries, "The Myth of Blue Icicles" sees Jandek making a return to his traditional heartland of twisted solo acoustic guitar accompanying vocals that swing from what seem to be very personal, diary-like narratives to image-laden, death dream prose.

The album begins with the astounding "Too Course" (sic), a regretful piece where the writer vividly recounts his first meeting with an unidentified person three years ago. "I'm sorry - I must have appeared too coarse and unrefined", he tells us wistfully. The narrator speaks directly to the song's subject, who we can assume was equally nervous during this first coy meeting; "Your eyes said hello to me /and a whole lot of things came out of you". Despite these initial uncertainties in the relationship, the writer tells us that the subject "had some endurance, and so did [he]". It seems from the narration that despite this, the subject has since drifted out of the narrator's life without getting to know him to the extent the narrator would have liked. The narrator from this point on describes a more guarded approach to the relationship, noting with sad, world-weariness; "I have decided to only respond the way I want / Too many times". The oft-commented upon Jandekian metaphor of the closed door is used again in this piece to represent a retreat from the world (as it had been in "Number 14" from "Staring at the Cellophane" and "No Slow Ones" from "Telegraph Melts"); "Sometimes I don't open the door / Too many times / But I look out the window / Maybe I'll see you there".

The album's title track "Blue Icicles" is another brilliant and deeply personal piece, that seems almost defiant in places. "Well its my birthday and I'm here to stay" the writer tells us over a choppy sea of chaotic and impassioned guitar; and "I'm not going back to any other year". This comment seems to vehemently assert Corwood's intention to go forward, not back. "There's only two ways to go / Come or stay", the narrator tells the listener, making it clear that the journey is far from over, and that Jandek is "not done yet / the best is yet to come". The narrator tells us that he will "bend his body" and "bend his will", to complete a "new song", that we can assume represents the continuation of his art. The piece goes on to veer into surreal poetry asking the subject to surrender their spirit, describing a death and re-birth cycle with both author and subject travelling as one person - a very interesting take on the unique symbiotic relationship that an artist like this has with their audience, symbolised by the elemental images of fire and ice in this piece.

The next track "The Daze" is a vivid description of a psychedelic dream, seeming to describe as much the mechanics of the dream process as the images and visions; "I watched pictures in the night / I saw images of the day / My body went through the motions / at least it seemed that way". The narrator describes colours, feelings and loosely connected images, with time melting like ice around him; the whole dream having a vague "semblance to the waking hours", although "from somewhere far away".

The final track "There's no door" once again uses the door metaphor discussed earlier in this review; "Open the door / space - no bottom, no top / no right, no left, no direct behind". The vocal in this opening line seems to be filled with dread, with the outside world being filled with very little that the narrator can relate to, although he tells us (possibly paraphrasing words spoken to him in the past); "Go forth and take that step and leave what you know / To what you don’t know / Can never know". The images in this piece seem to show a real sadness in the writer, suggesting that by letting his emotional guard down the narrator has fallen into a void that he cannot get out of. "Energy propels and the void carries you because you opened the door / And walked right in / dropped off a cliff and can't stop falling".

"The Myth of Blue Icicles" is an excellent piece of writing and improvisational poetry, with acoustic guitars that shift from cacophony to blues-influenced playing throughout. The lyrical content of this album is phenomenal, dark and considered; psychedelic, vivid and improvised all at once. The personal nature of much of this writing will endear the album to the majority of Corwood listeners, who thrive on the uncut and untouched emotion of these releases. Contrary to popular belief, the door is most definitely open and, like the record says, the best part's yet to come.

"The Myth of Blue Icicles" is available for purchase from Corwood Industries, P.O. Box 15375, Houston TX 77220.

1 comment:

26 said...

great review!
for some reason this cd grabs me but others (what else does the time mean?) completely bore me