Advanced Theory posits that when a genius creates a piece of art that is largely perceived as bad, it does not necessarily mean he’s lost his touch. Rather, it might mean that he’s doing something that you cannot understand, because he has Advanced beyond you.
Jandek—who performs Saturday at Velvet Lounge as part of the Sonic Circuits Festival—has been making inscrutable, some would even say bad, art for over two decades. Still, I’ve never considered him capable of advancement. His behavior—hiding his true identity, declining interviews, never appearing in public, releasing scores droney and unlistenable psych-folk records via mail order—is weird, yeah, but it’s consistent. And truly advanced behavior, at least as it is defined by founder Jason Hartley, is anything but consistent.
As Chuck Klosterman put it in this Esquire article:
The key to Advancement is that Advanced artists a) do not do what is expected of them but also b) do not do the opposite of what is expected of them.
Jandek—unlike Sting, Lou Reed, or any other truly advanced artist—pretty much always does what you expect.
Or does he?
As of late, Jandek has been showing behavior suggestive of advancement. In 2004 he performed live for the first time ever, at a festival in Glasgow, Scotland. This was actually kind of overt, meaning that it’s the exact opposite of his expected behavior and thus not advanced. Yet overt behavior is, confusingly, a precursor to advancement.
In 2005 he released Raining Down Diamonds, an album of songs performed solo on fretless electric bass. Fretless bass is an extremely advanced instrument.
And now this:
I would say this is a pretty solid example of not doing what is expected, yet not doing the opposite of what is expected. As Washington City Paper editor Andrew Beaujon observed: “How reclusive can you be if you know someone who plays slap bass?”
I’m a still a little skeptical, but a case is definitely building.
Jandek Sat., 9/26 @ Velvet Lounge $20 (includes an entire day’s worth of experimental music performances by local and international artists) 915 U St. NW Washington DC