The Ex

By - Nov 1st, 2004 02:52 pm
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By Jeremy M. Rottgen

When you think of The Ex, imagine mad scientists with guitars and drums pushing the raw sounds of their musical and political agenda through anything from punk to noise. Now imagine these scientists staying up all night in the lab, spreading their message relentlessly… for over two decades.

Since their debut, Disturbing Domestic Peace, in 1980, The Ex have released almost two dozen albums. Turn is a long listen on two discs, defying the punk way by creating huge textures and strange harmonies. The set offers more standard rock fare, plus several excursions into house beats. The Ex rely on over-driven yet articulated rhythms. Stand-up bass provides a solid bottom. Steve Albini produced Turn, giving the guitars punch, but it’s the beat that ends up taking you away.

“Listen to the Painters” begins Turn with the rant “We need poets we need painters.” “Pie” is a great rendition of a sweet potato pie recipe being barked into a microphone before a ridiculous breakdown. Disc two features more of a percussive onslaught inspired by international rhythms. “Theme from Konono” has a catchy African-themed guitar sway. “In the Event” ends Turn with a haunting melody accompanied by a lone saxophone.

Turn is a roller-coaster ride of interweaving dynamics; from extreme highs to subterranean lows, unafraid of risks. That’s a good thing for a hazardous band like The Ex.

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