Pere Ubu: Architecture of Language 1979-1982

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4LP retrospective from arch art punks.

Architecture of Language is the second in a series of retrospective releases from the great Pere Ubu. This collection pulls together New Picnic Time (1979), The Art Of Walking (1980), Song Of The Bailing Man (1982) and a bonus disc. The records serve as a reminder of how important Pere Ubu are. This is rock deconstructed and built anew from the ashes. A theatrical art project where chaotic dissonance and utter beauty exist within the same music. At times it feels like you’re listening to a séance with David Thomas’ voice sounding like a conduit for the spirits. It’s noir nouvelle garage music. It’s spiritual Soul. It’s freaky Funk. It’s art Punk. It’s belligerent Blues. It’s a painful beauty that delivers more on each playing. If only there were more bands like Pere Ubu.

This article first appeared in Louder Than War magazine, issue 3 March/April 2016 

Music Reviews, Non-Fiction

Mogwai: Atomic Album Review

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Mesmerising soundtrack from post-rockers.

This re-worked soundtrack to the BBC4 documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise, follows on from the bands acclaimed soundtracks Les Revenants and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Mogwai have always had a lot of space in their music; and they use that space to wonderful effect on Atomic. The songs are multi-layered, building up to a resolution of either horror or triumph – depending on how the miracle of the atomic world is used: to devastate or to create. The album opener, Ether, starts with tinkling sounds like falling glass, or poison rain, heralding the dawn of a morning like no other: the Atomic Age. Scram has a sound of radio waves spreading across space, with a deep drum and bass sound and a discordant off beat behind the steady pulse. Pripyat (a town in Chernobyl) has an ominous feel to it, like approaching war gods, with an Eastern European melody emerging from the doom. The final track is called Fat Man, the code name for the bomb that was dropped over Nagasaki. It starts with single piano notes, like drops in the ocean, and builds to a mournful cry of despair and horror, before ending with that single note echoing down the years. At 6 minutes long it is 5 minutes 59 seconds longer than it took approximately 40,000 people to be killed by Fat Man.

Haunting, thoughtful, moving and beautiful.

This article first appeared in Louder Than War Magazine, Issue 3 March/April 2016