Opening with a brash, slightly delayed electric guitar that brings to mind the pluck of the Japanese koto, Jandek?s ?What Else Does the Time Mean? initially seems to leave behind the burned out blues of records past for a more ethnic flair, but it?s really just an introductory diversion, as his vocals bring us back to more familiar territory. And with the vocals, around comes the music.
The guitar here is all electric, and there are no other instruments present. As usual, he sounds as though he laid the whole thing down in one sitting. His voice is less desperate, but as wanting as ever, as are his lyrics, which always rotate around the themes of loss and loneliness. On the opener My Own Way, he moans, ?making sure I stay alive, so I can talk to you in my own way,? containing little hope for redemption; and although his voice sounds fairly calm ? as though the terror has perhaps abated for a while ? it?s really all just relative to how totally desolate he has sounded on previous releases. At times, he even occasionally reduces his voice to a whisper. These are basically love songs for the long lost.
By the fifth track, The Place, Jandek picks up the pace just a tad before settling back down to the more subdued feel of the rest of the album. He also takes the opportunity to sing about ?cabbage and cognac being all over the place,? which is about a brilliant as any lyric he?s written to date.
On the song, I?m Sorry No, out comes the harmonica, lending the song a distinctly American feel. Not that anyone else has ever sounded like this before or since; the effect is more of a reference than an aping. His harmonica playing is actually rather playful and spirited, showing him to not be completely without humor. In fact only Jandek sounds like Jandek, and he is perhaps our most unique contribution to music to date.
Open for interpretation, but not specifically meant for it, ?What Else Does the Time Mean? adds another page to the cloudy mirror of Jandek?s music. And while you can?t really see in, he is always there looking out. Another worthy addition to his catalogue. 10/10 -- John Cramer (11 September, 2006)