May 04, 2009, 07:26AM

Deconstructing Jandek

The talentless hack who duped record collecting nerds.

I’ve now had over twenty years to learn, study, and digest the myth of Jandek—more than enough time to formulate an opinion and revisit it just to be certain—I put Jandek on Corwood into my Netflix queue to bring some finality to my own opinion. The resurgence came from Jandek’s decision to start performing. What began as a “Holy shit. I think we just saw Jandek perform live...” from a ’04 surprise gig in Scotland to a full-fledged tour, we’ve witnessed the transformation of an artist whose notoriety was his anonymity to one with little reason to examine further. With each live performance, the myth is diminished, leaving behind a guy from Texas with no real musical talent who took a bunch of conceited record geeks for a three-decade ride.With so little to offer in terms of musicality, and with increased opportunities to see Jandek (assuming there will be more), it’s logical to ask, “Why would you want to?” To see his performance would most certainly be the finality of a quarter-century of myth making.As for Jandek On Corwood, its ninety minutes devoted to perpetuating the story while doing little to explain the musical aspect of Corwood Industry’s only recording artist. You get about a dozen experts that wax on about Jandek’s state of mind, his motivation, and interpretations of his massive recorded output. Occasionally, one will admit to how unlistenable his music is, before suggesting that it’s all part of appeal. It would have been more intriguing to hear them confess that the story is the appeal and how his music is not even worth examining.Essentially, you get a film that mirrors Jandek himself. The filmmakers coyly weave a thin web of interest, playing portions of the man’s catalog over a moderately entertaining narrative. Towards the end of the movie, you begin to lose interest. From the ridiculously over-analyzing “experts,” to the increasingly intolerable soundtrack, I began contemplating the next film in my Netflix queue.


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