Album of the week
Album review: Pere Ubu, Lady from Shanghai (Fire)
Pere's persistence pays off with some gripping grooves
There's something admirable, even heroic, in the dogged persistence with which David Thomas continues to try and bend rock music to his own idea of avant-rock purity. He displays an almost monkish devotion to his art, but perhaps that is what it takes to keep chipping away at the coalface of experimental rock for nearly four decades, rewarded every now and then with an album as gripping and persuasive as Lady from Shanghai.
This is Pere Ubu's idea of dance music, which is to say it has a grimly satisfying momentum that becomes oddly addictive despite its spikier, more alienating tendencies. "Free White", for instance, was at one point during its gestation intended to sound like disco music playing in an adjoining apartment: it sounds like a deconstructing funk groove spinning slowly apart, allowing you to see inside the music, like an exploding-diagram moment in a CSI thriller. And "Thanks" wields a daintily lumbering blend of industrial and ethereal strains, behind a vocal melody recalling "Ring My Bell". It's dance music, but not as we know it, and more importantly, not performed as if dancing is a particularly admirable pastime.
There's always been an implicitly critical element to Ubu's music, and Thomas's attitude may be best summed up by the lyric to the relentless, trudging "Lampshade Man": "They say the truth hurts – just not enough!".
The classic Ubu forces of abstract synth noise, spiky guitar riffs and propulsive swagger-riffs are ably wielded throughout, while the few sampled elements are used judiciously, with a cut-up of Thomas Edison warbling "Mary Had a Little Lamb" through "Feuksley Ma'am, The Hearing", and the Chambers Brothers' classic cowbell riff from "Time Has Come Today" percolating through the astringent guitar chords of "Musicians Are Scum".
It's an absorbing, sometimes harrowing ride that concludes, in "The Carpenter Sun", with an abstract computer/synth piece reflecting the hall of mirrors finale to the Orson Welles film after which the album's named, supporting a suitably mysterious, noirish narrative.
Download: Thanks; Free White; Mandy; 414 Seconds; Musicians Are Scum
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rape threats, death threats and a police investigation after video poking fun at an Islamic Party in Malaysia goes viral
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 6-year-old writes ice cold Valentine's card to his stepmother
- 5 Syrian child photographed 'surrendering to camera because she thought it was a gun'
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Tidal launch: Madonna insists Jay Z's new streaming service is 'not about consumption and greed'
Top Gear live to go ahead: Jeremy Clarkson to join Richard Hammond and James May... just don't call it Top Gear
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men