Nowhere man

By JAMES PARKER  |  May 25, 2007

Dijkstra, Kelley, and Keszler have not met Jandek: their names were selected from a list provided to Corwood Industries by promoter Stacie Slotnick, whose Critique of Pure Reason has produced most of the local psych/freak/broken folk shows of the last few years. They will have one rehearsal with him, on the afternoon of the show. I ask Slotnick whether Jandek has heard the work of these musicians? How did he choose them? “You keep saying ‘he,’ ” she points out over the phone from her home (also the Critique HQ) in Inman Square. Well, yes — he’s a man, isn’t he? “I don’t assume that I’ve been dealing with Jandek,” says Slotnick piously. “I’ve been dealing with the representative from Corwood Industries.”

Ah — the “mystique.” Won’t people be rather disappointed, I suggest, when they see that Jandek, “the representative,” and the dude on the album covers are all one person? Won’t his material presence, manifested at last, bring the fans down a bit? “I don’t know,” says Slotnick. “I’ve never seen Jandek play live. That’s all part of the magic.” Slotnick is doing her best here: it can’t be easy promoting a show by a calculated nonentity. “There’s a still a certain separation there,” she continues. “And I’ve been amazed by that. That, in this age of everybody wanting to know the most intimate details of celebrities’ lives, people continue to be very respectful of this, and don’t pry, and don’t press Corwood to provide information about the representative.” Will the show sell out? “I hope so. There’s a built-in audience for this. There are people who are particular fans of the Corwood output and who will travel long distances to see a show like this. And then, because Boston has a very rich improvisational scene, there will be people who have come out to see Eli and Jorrit and Greg, as well.”

Eli Keszler plays with local noise-art outfit Red Horse; he’s also a regular accompanist for New York composer/keyboardist Anthony Coleman. He just graduated from New England Conservatory with a degree in composition. The Jandek gig fazes him not at all: “I’ve done this before,” he says by cellphone. “I do it a lot. I’m not worried about it. It’ll be unique — a great experience one way or the other. And the music is free, you know? It’s not like we’re working on tightening up some big ensemble piece. I mean, how weird would that be, for Jandek?” I wonder whether he finds the enigmatic nature of the engagement offputting in any way. “Oh no. To me it only helps the music. The music is mysterious — it’s haunting, he’s always painting a scene, and it leaves you questioning. It’s spontaneous and it’s private and you feel you’re getting a glimpse of something that maybe you shouldn’t. All the musicians I love have that quality. You turn on the record and it puts you in a particular spot. I’ve seen so many articles complaining that he rambles, or that his guitar is always out of tune — well, it may not be A-E-D-G-B-E, but he has it tuned to his own system. I mean, there’s an out-of-tune guitar and then there’s a uniquely tuned guitar. I think if everybody tuned their guitar differently, you’d hear people making some very interesting music.”

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