Postcards and Audio Letters
Made In Mexico/Chapelle TNI
While Damien Jurado is perhaps better known for his folksy acoustic songs, this CD represents a different hobby of his. He tends to spend a lot of time in thrift stores with a Walkman. Boxes of cheapo tapes can sometimes yield windows into peoples’ ordinary lives in much the same way as lyrics. The finds range from endearing to very disconcerting, but always fascinating. The first two tracks take up a good forty minutes, and consist of two rambling audio letters circa 1972, on a tape sent back and forth overseas between two recently reacquainted old lovers, Robert and Angel. It’s a little awkward to listen to and decidedly voyeuristic to watch them take turns digging through old and new feelings.
“Christmas 1983” parts one and two finds us spending a night amongst a family that has with a dangerous problem: Dad has a new toy, a “ghettoblaster.” He has good intentions, it seems, as he tries to make everyone talk into it, but he comes off as an ass. “Your brain isn’t engaged?” Captured nicely on tape. Definitely the most amusing tracks on here as well, though.
We get a slice of Dawn and Phil’s romance over the next three tracks. The second track in the series is Phil waking up Dawn by leaving a message when he really should be sleeping as well. Dawn picks up and forgets to turn off the machine, and a good four minutes of sleepy, sappy, awkwardly new missing-each-others are captured. The next message finds a tense Phil leaving a message from the airport. “You’ll be getting a letter from me in the next few days, I think. Take care.” Sounds like things have ended.
“Our Kid is Getting Hurt” is by far the most disturbing. A telephone conversation between a man and a woman concerning the safety and custody of their son. Jim is angry, abusive, and swears a lot. The one silver lining to this is that apparently she’s no longer with him, and that she’s not afraid to call the police.
Getting such a random, intimate slice of peoples’ lives is a weird thing. Listening to this, I find myself painting in the rest of the picture, both the faces and scenery as well as the situations the families are in. The Lonely Souls tape on Wifflefist (http://www.wifflefist.com) is the only other release I’ve heard so far of found spoken tapes, but Damien Jurado’s selections are much more interesting, perhaps for the fact that they’re not as weird. The fact that it’s easier to identify with these people makes it hit home that much more.
An odd release, but as someone who himself has crates of tapes filled with answering machine messages and sounds, one that I’m happy to hear.