NEW MUSIC TUESDAY ALBUM REVIEWS – Pere Ubu, Andrew Skeet, Sons Of Huns

Pere Ubu, Elitism For The People 1975-7

R-6993356-1431216544-1763.jpegIf you clicked through in the hopes of reading a Pere Ubu review, you’re likely already aware of Dave Thomas. You’ve seen (or at least heard of) the undeniably bleak post-punk and hardcore madness that he helped set forth on the globe starting some four decades ago in Cleveland, Ohio.

If not, I’m happy to make your introduction.

Newly released, Pere Ubu’s box set Elitism For The People 1975-1978 contains re-issues and remasters of some of their earliest work, containing standards The Modern Dance and The Hearpen Singles. These were the rugged gold standards that made the band an overnight, underground phenomenon. I’m not interested in talking about those though. I’m more interested in the inclusion of Dub Housing (the band’s second record, which came out almost simultaneously with their debut) and Manhattan a new release, capturing an eclectic, early performance.

Pere Ubu made a name for themselves, largely from an “anti” point of view. They took an anti-rock stance, an anti-corporate stance and were at always anti-establishment. What makes Dub Housing such a curious inclusion (over say, The Art Of Walking) is one of the rare Ubu records to embrace a form, most specifically their off-kilter ska and reggae influences. Still rich with broken, jagged , fuck all avant garde experimentation (like “Codex”) the band does manage to hone Slits like, island mind cohesion.

The live album Manhattan is drawn from an early performance, and stands out for its bleak and coolly sparse sound. At only six songs, filled with banter and violent bursts of noise, this 1977 recording was vintage Thomas and vintage Ubu. What makes Manhattan one of my favorite Pere Ubu recordings is that it refuses to elevate itself into a museum piece. Even though the band was easily categorized as art rock, with highly post modernistic pretensions to boot, their baseline was always hard and undeniably energetic.

One of my favorite band sites of all time, The Ubu Project has mass amounts of information on the band as well as Elitism For The People. 

Andrew Skeet, Finding Time

Andrew Skeet, Finding TimeI’ll cop to this much. I was reviewing something else entirely when unexpectedly, my iTunes library clicked over into Andrew Skeet’s Finding Time. The first track, “Passing Phase” warmed and then suddenly, I simply could not hear anything else.

Finding Time is Skeet’s (an English composer and native of Croydon) debut album. And what a debut it turns out to be, a breathtakingly ethereal arrangement of ambient piano and keyboard. At every track’s introduction, I found myself listening further into the composition, damning any sonic limitations in my environment. As I tried capturing above, the record is arrestingly gentle and provocative, forming the kind of atmosphere that sets even callous the heart to wander.

Although this is Skeet’s first record of his own, he’s a well established musician. He is familiar from associations with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, to ESPN’s Wimbledon coverage to his creation of video game soundtracks. This is his first attempt at a piece of music all his own though. What makes Finding Time so involving is that is teeming with ideas. His sound is delightfully busy, shifting in jittery phases on “Changing Lines” to the cinematic and complex, “Killing Time” which seems to tell an entire narrative arc in seven and a half minutes.

Check out Skeet’s record here at his website. It’s due out this week. You need this.

Sons Of Huns, While Sleeping Stay Awake

Sons Of Huns, While Sleeping Stay Awake, Portland, Oregon, metal, new music tuesday, erick mertzHow do I say this? Portland, Oregon’s Sons Of Huns are balls out metal.

Widely known for their sprawling, theatric live performances, Sons Of Huns are more than a hot headed novelty act though. They craft a grease and smoking engine brand of open road thrash that seeks and finds no compromise. Think of the pure heat that blew out of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All the first time you heard it (“Eye In The Sky” feels ripped from those sessions) or more recently, the tenacity of Red Fang records, and you’ll at least approach their apocalyptic feeling.

I love the nuance in new metal but Sons Of Huns boil the heavy music proposition down to something much simpler. On their debut album they strip away the artifice, the preoccupations with thought provoking progressions and grind out guitars and 600ccs of driving rythm, all brought to life with desperate, over the top vocals. The opening track, “Osiris Slain” races off the line, spaces between ensuing songs like mere speed bumps. Enough surprises emerge, like the prog influences on “Alchemist I” and “Alchemist II” form unexpectedly languid sonic spaces.

You can pre-order While Sleeping Stay Awake here at the Sons of Huns Bandcamp site. For now, it’s only $7.00 too. You can hardly get a beer for that anymore.