Sunday, 9 May 2010

Corwood 0796 - Jandek: "Helsinki Saturday"

Just when you thought you were getting a handle on the man, the myth and the legend, Jandek goes and releases an album like this. "Helsinski Saturday" is a recording of the man from Corwood's 11th live performance, and is the label's 11th live album release (excluding DVD issues of previous performances). The album features only one song, the 63 minute long improvised instrumental piece "Sleeping in the Dawn", and like "Glasgow Monday" and "Hasselt Saturday" before it, the representative from Corwood plays piano.

It can be seen, however, that the tone set here is markedly different from those performances in many ways. Recorded live in November 2005, "Helsinki Saturday" features accompaniment by Iro Haarla on harp, with piano and harp playing off against each other with both gentle beauty and twisted dissonance.

Jandek's piano for the most part seems to be based around oriental-sounding runs which are complimented perfectly by Haarla's playing, making for a truly different and interesting record. During the darker segments of the piece, Haarla's ability really comes to the fore, matching Jandek's off-kilter playing with scrapes and heavy-plucks to the instrument, cacophonous chords and an impressive ability to respond to the other player. Haarla also takes the lead at various points during the piece, introducing more discordant elements as the record progresses.

Undoubtedly some will be put off by the length of the piece and by the fact that this is an entirely instrumental record, however I would strongly encourage you to pick this one up if you can. This is a gorgeous sounding record with improvisation that is variously interesting, challenging and beautiful. Essential listening.

"Helsinki Saturday" is available for purchase from Corwood Industries, P.O. Box 15375, Houston TX 77220.

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