|Ex, the / Turn|
|Label:||Touch and Go|
|Add Date:||2004-10-11||Pull Date:||2004-12-13|
|Week Ending:||12 Dec||5 Dec||28 Nov||21 Nov||14 Nov||7 Nov||31 Oct||24 Oct|
|1.||Wed, 20 Oct 10:||Harry Inman|
|4.||Wed, 31 Aug 05:||Murray|
|2.||Wed, 13 Jun 07:||mike|
Baptism of Solitude (extended mix)
|5.||Wed, 08 Jun 05:||Harry Inman|
|3.||Thu, 11 May 06:||mike|
Baptism of Solitude
|6.||Tue, 08 Mar 05:||Ben|
Umami Jazz Program
review, take two|
The Ex are a Dutch agit-punk band, 25 years and 17 or 18 albums on from their formation, and still difficult to pigeonhole. They combine catchy rock, touches of punk, and group improvisation. Being a collective of sorts shows up in their music with the communication level between the musicians. They have a male singer but the drummer comes out from behind her kit and sings on a few tracks.
I love this description of song topics on their web site: "Songs about freedom, pies and justice, confusion, insomnia, the nightmare that's called Kissinger, the power of poets and painters, dogs, sloths, and sisters... No idols, no soap”. I’d also add, a song based on a riff from the Republic of Congo group Konono and an Eritrean liberation song. They have a new bass player, Rozemarie, who plays a standup bass, often bowing it
This double CD starts off with a bang; two simple guitar riffs whirling around each other, drum rolls, a bowed bass, and the straightforward message, "We need poets, we need painters."
The second track, “Prism Song” immediately shows off the band's diversity. The bass starts jazzy but the guitar goes rock. The deadpan female vocals remind us of the emptiness of consumerism. The track slowly builds in intensity and loudness, one guitar plays with feedback while the other jangles.
“Dog Tree” is tighter and more controlled with spoken lyrics; at least that’s how the track starts. The guitars then do a couple of short improvised bursts including a call and response.
“Getatchew”, is an instrumental tribute to Ethiopian sax player Getatchew Mekurya. It’s one big complicated buildup.
One of the highlights of the record is “The Pie”. Not only is this a great song but you get a useful pie recipe introducing the track, which is about the prank pie-ing of several individuals a couple of years ago.“Some people say that the pie is the limit, but a pastry at a time is an answer to their crime.”
”3:45 AM” is a rockin, busy, and quick track. To use one of The Ex’s own phrases, this is a beautiful frenzy! The track ends with simple guitar and the bass player knocking on the wood of her standup bass.
Disc two starts off with an interesting story. Last year, the band toured the Republic of Congo with the Congan group Konono (Orchestre Tout Puissant Likembe Konono n°1). Konono plays mostly amplified likembé (thumb-pianos). The Ex loved one of Konono’s songs so much they asked if they could use the “riff”. This song is based around that riff and the results are surprising and amazing. On one hand it sounds like a simple 60s rock riff but on the other it has that repetitive groove of high energy African groups.
The next track “Huriyet” continues with the African influence and has a very different sound from anything else on the record. This track is a beautiful Eritrean liberation song. The only percussion is handclaps, the guitar is mostly quiet, and the vocals are dual female vocals of the bass player and drummer. The song is sung in Tigre, a language from north Eritrea.
“The Idunno Law” starts with hand held radios being tuned to different stations through the guitar and bass pickups. This track shows the mellower side of the band with bowed bass, quiet guitar and restrained vocals.
The Ex are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen and their interaction, playfulness, diversity in influence, politics, and ability to make beautiful rock noise all come through on this double CD release.
The Ex – Turn (Touch and Go)
Dutch agit-punk. I’ve always found it hard to describe The Ex. Catchy, rock with group improvisation and bursts of frenzy and anger. Mostly male vocals but a couple tracks have female vocals. They’ve been around for 25 years and this is their 18 or 19 album. I love this description of the topics that I lifted from their web site. “Songs about freedom, pies and justice, confusion, insomnia, the nightmare that's called Kissinger, the power of poets and painters, dogs, sloths, and sisters... No idols, no soap”. I’d also add, a song based on a riff from the Republic of Congo group Konono and an Eritrean liberation song. They have a new bass player, Rozemarie, who plays a standup bass, often bowing it. One of the best bands to ever grace the planet.
**1. Really catchy guitar riff with rolling and repetitive drums. The two guitarists dance around each other. “We need poets, we need painters”. Some great bowed bass.
**2. The way the bass starts you’d think this was going to be a jazz track. Female vocals. Slowly builds, one guitar plays with feedback while the other jangles. About consumerism.
**3. More of a math rock sound including vocals that begin more spoken than sung. Guitars do a couple short improvised bursts including a call and response type guitar improv in the middle. Just when you think the track is over, there is a jazz-like bass solo and the guitars sneak back in with the opening riff.
4. Instrumental that slowly builds and just when you think they are going to go over the top, they pull way back, almost to silence and start the buildup again. This is a tribute to Ethiopian sax player, Getatchew Mekurya.
**5. Starts with just vocals giving a recipe for a pie!!!! About the “prank” of pie-ing famous people and politicians a few years back. It’s a long track. Guitar sticks to a slow jangle for the first couple minutes as the track builds. Some vocals through a bullhorn. “Some people say that the pie is the limit, but a pastry at a time is an answer to their crime.” About 5 minutes in there is a guitar only improv. Well maybe there is some bass in there and then the track returns to where it was. It ends with some very pretty guitar with lots of harmonics.
**6. Rockin, busy, quick track. A beautiful frenzy! Halfway through the track there is a short group improve. Track ends with simple guitar and the bass player knocking on the wood of her standup bass.
8. Another long track that starts out straightforward but about 2 minutes in quiets way down to just guitar improv. Sounds like the creaking of an old ship. Takes it’s time getting louder heading back towards rock territory. Reaches a wonderfully loud, chaotic point by the end.
**1. Based on a riff, of Congan band Konono and named after them. On one hand it sounds like a 60s rock riff but on the other it has that repetitive groove of high energy African groups. Drums play mostly cowbell and wood block, and there are some vocals but not many for the 8 minute song. It’s all about that guitar riff. We keep returning to it.
**2. Wow! An Eritrean liberation song that is a good bit different than the rest of the record. Up front dual female vocals not singing English, hand claps for percussion, and quiet guitar. SOOOO catchy and pretty. Guitars have slight Ethiopian sound.
3. Starts with one of the guitars playing with feedback and his volume knob. Drums and bass join creating a dancy groove. About his sister? More bowed bass.
4. Starts with fast bowed bass. More choppy and angular that the other tracks.
5. Starts with hand held radios being tuned to different stations through the guitar and bass pickups. Slow simple guitar and drums sneak into the picture. Restrained vocals, which sound like he’s trying to, but having difficulty whispering. Beautiful bowed bass. Track never rocks, stays quiet, and fades out with more hand held radios.
6. About Kissinger. More rocking with a simple and somewhat annoying guitar riff.
7. Wonderful, quiet interaction between the two guitars and bass. Starts with spoken lyrics. The bowed bass, sounds like a cello. Sad sounding. Is that French spoken word at the end?
|1.||Listen to the Painters||7.||Ip Man|
|2.||Prism Song||8.||Theme From Konono|
|5.||The Pie||11.||Confusion Errorist|
|6.||3:45 Am||12.||Henry K|
|13.||In the Event|