Pere Ubu: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1975)

 |   |  1 min read

Pere Ubu: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1975)

Truly terrifying music is rare: there aren't that many pieces which make the hair on the back of your neck prickle, fill you with a sense of impending doom, make you feel uneasy somewhere deep within a part of your brain where rational thought no longer works for you.

Pere Ubu -- whose debut album The Modern Dance appears at Essential Elsewhere incidentally -- manage that kind of music with alarming regularity, especially in their early days.

They made visceral music of sinew and gristle, propelled by industrial noise and David Thomas' threatening vocals which were more Eraserhead than Halloween, more suggested than overt. The disconcerting desperation in his voice, the odd sounds, the suggestion of an unspecified narrative . . .

This all added up to music of unease -- and few bands would launch a "career" on the back of a single like Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (with Heart of Darkness on the flipside).

Inspired by a film about the first American bombing mission over Japan -- but seemingly more about the psyche and notion of it rather than the fact -- Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo is like being inside a prism and seeing your reflection as victim on some sides and right through to your enemy's eyes (on the ground or in the cockpit) on others.

And as the tension rises it becomes harder and harder to turn away.

Helluva debut single if nothing else.

But it was always about much more than that.

For more one-off songs, unusual singles or music with a backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Betty Everett: Ain't Gonna Cry (1957)

Betty Everett: Ain't Gonna Cry (1957)

With the great Willie Dixon on bass and other players who turned up on Ike Turner's Rhythm Kings sessions, the young Betty Everett nailed this original for the Cobra Records label in Chicago, a... > Read more

The Gun: Race with the Devil (1967)

The Gun: Race with the Devil (1967)

In the age of Cream (mid '66 to late '68), Blue Cheer and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the power trio became an established form and this group from Buckinghamshire -- two brothers and another --... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Jamie McDell

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Jamie McDell

Although 22-year old singer-songwriter Jamie McDell from Auckland (or Raglan if there's good weather) is often characterised as a poster girl for healthy living, the outdoor life and... > Read more

GUEST WRITER SARAH JANE ROWLAND sees power corrupt in stark black and white

GUEST WRITER SARAH JANE ROWLAND sees power corrupt in stark black and white

Robert Rossen’s tightly directed 1949 drama All The King’s Men is a story of the moral and political corruption of an honest hick swayed by an unchecked ego and greed for power. It is... > Read more