Ex
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Disturbing Domestic Peace , 5/10
History Is What's Happening , 5/10
Dignity Of Labour , 6/10
Tumult , 5/10
Blueprints For A Blackout , 6/10
Pokkeherrie , 5/10
Too Many Cowboys , 5/10
Aural Guerrilla , 5/10
Joggers & Smoggers , 5/10
Scrabbling At The Lock , 6/10
And The Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders , 5/10
Mudbird Shivers , 6/10
Instant , 7/10
Starters Alternators , 7/10
Dizzy Spells , 6/10
Turn (2004), 5.5/10
Catch My Shoe (2010), 5/10
Y'Anbessaw Tezeta (2012), 5/10
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Dutch anarchists Ex, formed by guitarist Terrie Ex and vocalist Sok, had started out in the militant vein of Crass but would continuously improve the quality of their cacophonous, incoherent bacchanals via increasingly challenging albums such as Blueprints For A Blackout (1983), Joggers & Smoggers (1989), Instant (1995), possibly their masterpiece, and Starters Alternators (1998).
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Gli Ex rappresentano la continuazione di una tradizione anarchica che data dal '68. Quello dell'EP All Corpses Smell The Same (1979) e degli album Disturbing Domestic Peace (Verrecords, 1980 - Ex, 1994) e History Is What's Happening (More DPM, 1982) e` un punkrock tanto irruente quanto dissonante, e fortemente politicizzato, che si ispira a Crass, Mekons e Gang Of Four. I singoli All Corpses Smell the Same (1980) New Horizons In Retailing (1980) Weapons For El Salvador (1981) Villa Zuid Moet Blijven (1981) e soprattutto Gonna Rob The Spermbank (1983) sono ancor piu` feroci, sarcastici e militanti.

L'EP Dignity Of Labour (VGZ, 1983) rimane un classico dell'agitprop (le canzoni, registrate in mezzo alle rovine di una fabbrica, descrivono come questa venne chiusa lasciando gli operai senza lavoro), ma soprattutto impiega per la prima volta una struttura aperta, con frequenti dilatazioni free-jazz e cacofonie gratuite.

Il cupissimo Tumult (FAI, 1983) si ispira all'hardcore americano, ma pochi brani (Island Race, Bouquet Of Barbet Wire, Fear) hanno la carica necessaria.

Enough Is Enough (1984) e Destroy Fascism (1987) sono gli anthem che escono su singolo.

I due doppi Blueprints For A Blackout (Pig Brother, 1983), forte di arrangiamenti molto piu` eclettici (e del nuovo bassista Luc), e l'inferiore Too Many Cowboys (Mordam, 1987). sono i piu` vari e i piu` ambiziosi, manifesti del loro metodo caotico e cacofonico.

Molti dei loro dischi sono analogamente diretti a una causa ben precisa, come l'antimilitarista Pokkeherrie (Pockabilly, 1985), il primo con la furibonda batterista Katrin/ Katherina, che contiene lo psicodramma Soviet Threat.

Il mediocre Aural Guerrilla (Homestead, 1988) e il nuovo doppio Joggers & Smoggers (Ex, 1989), fitto di collaboratori e di strumenti non rock, un lavoro confuso e disastrato che sembra improvvisato in studio, prestano se non altro piu` attenzione ai metodi di registrazione moderni.

Between 1991 and 1992 Ex released six singles, that started a new phase in their career, one that is more clearly jazz and less clearly punk. The new course is self-explanatory on the two collaborations with cellist Tom Cora, Scrabbling At The Lock (RecRec, 1991) and And The Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders (First Puppet, 1993). The albums are hardly the work of Ex's genius, as they soften the band's aggressive stance and sound almost folkish.

Scottish guitarist Andy Moor of Dog Faced Hermans joined Ex in 1994, but started Kletka Red soon afterwards.

Han Buhrs joined for Mudbird Shivers (RecRec, 1995), and his Captain Beefheart-influenced vocals gave Ex a new sound. No surprise that Thunderstruck Blues and Hunt Hat sound like Beefheart fronting late Pere Ubu or Pop Group.

The double album Instant (Ex, 1995), possibly their masterpiece, features distinguished guests, mainly from the jazz scene (including legendary drummer Han Bennink) and increases, if possible, the degree of randomness of their songs. Occasionally, one hears echoes of the Art Ensemble Of Chicago (Danse Maudit), of avantgarde chamber music (Baars vs KArekiet), of Fred Frith (Knic Knack & Zoom), Captain Beefheart (Ret Roper), and of Weasels-era Frank Zappa (If The Hat Fits The Suit).

Starters Alternators (Touch & Go, 1998) stands as a major turning point in the career of Ex. While the emphatic Fall-ian sermon of Frenzy, the dissonant, Beefheart-ian bacchanal of Let's Panic Later the demented jumping blues of Two Struck By The Moon (enhanced by guitar scratching), merely rehash with more confidence their craft, several loosely-structured pieces leverage on the chaotic experiments of the past to create a new form of art.
Superficially, IOU is a trivial exercise in psychodrama recitation, but it actually fuses the rhythmic elements of the Modern Lovers and the Talking Heads is a all but trivial manner. The instrumental Wildebeest is pure and simple psychological tension in the form of collective, paradoxical rhythm.
Mother (sung by Katrin the drummer) is deceivingly childish, while its percussive primitivism conceils a solemn madrigal filtered through the Art Bears.
Sure, there isn't much music in "songs" like Art Of Losing, that are not sung and are played in a subdued mode, but they are subtle lieder in the Nick Cave/ Jim Morrison tradition: haunting vocals over a haunting background of free-form instrumental jamming. If Lump Sum Insomnia is too theatrical, elsewhere the band shows the consummate skill of musichall entertainers who have upgraded to the city's opera house.

Dizzy Spells (Touch & Go, 2001) is perhaps a little too artsy for its own sake. Ex often sound like aging punks (Town Of Stone, Burnsome) who still rant but with no venom. They also take themselves too seriously. Except for the circus feeling of Nobodies' Dream, the tracks exude self-importance. True, Ex coin their own version of blues (Walt's Dizzyland), rap (Time Flies, Fistful Of Feed) and folk (Little Atlas Heavyweight) and experiment with countless styles, but very little sounds excitingly new. They do score a couple of points with the demented boogie of Haydays and the drunk pow-wow of Karaoke Blackout.

Ex Orkest (2001) is a live big-band experiment that augments the Ex's line-up with 20 musicians (vocalists, trumpet players, percussionists, trombonists, saxophonists, bassists and conductor Hamish McKeich).

Turn (Touch & Go, 2004) is a hellish cauldron of agit-prop lyrics, vitriolic guitar dissonances, brutal choppy rhythms and blasting free-form noise (Listen to the Painters, the explosive Theme from Konono). This time around, there are also murky instrumental passages (highlighted by the doublebass of Rozemarie, the new member) and quasi-rapping interludes. The bad news is that they have slowed down considerably. In the old days, this double disc would have been an EP.

Catch My Shoe (Ex, 2010), Ex's first album in six years and the first one without Sok, featured singer and guitarist Arnold DeBoer.

Addis (Fishtank, 2011) documents a collaboration between clarinetist Xavier Charles and Terrie Ex.

The Ex's Y'Anbessaw Tezeta (Terp, 2012) featured many guests, including the 76-years old tenor saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria.

Ex's guitarists Terrie Ex and Andy Moor joined Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) and Ken Vandermark (tenor sax and B clarinet) for Live At Cafe Oto (september 2011) credited to Lean Left. Gored Gored (Terp, 2013) documented an improvisation between drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and guitarist Terrie Ex.

The Ex collaborated with Brass Unbound, i.e. the reed quartet of Mats Gustafsson (baritone sax), Ken Vandermark (saxes and clarinet), Wolter Wierbos (trombone) and Roy Paci (trumpet), for Enormous Door (2013).

Live At Area Sismica (september 2012) documents a collaboration by Ex's guitarists Terrie Ex and Andy Moor with drummer Paal Nilssen-love and saxophonist Ken Vandermark.

Experiments With A Leaf (october 2013) documents live improvisations in a cathedral by John Butcher and the Ex' guitarist Andy Moor.

The double-disc At Bimhuis (1991-2015) collects 25 years of live performances, featuring jazz giants such as Han Bennink, Ab Baars, Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, Peter Evans, John Butcher, Steve Beresford, etc.

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