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

Bugotak: Kon Togethy (2006)

Bugotak: Kon Togethy (2006)

We could fill the bottomless black hole that is From the Vaults with just oddball versions of Beatles songs. (So far we have been restrained, just Laibach, cartoon character Elmer Fudd and the... > Read more

Candi Staton: I'm Just a Prisoner of Your Good Lovin' (1969)

Candi Staton: I'm Just a Prisoner of Your Good Lovin' (1969)

Now in her early 70s, the great soul and gospel singer Candi Staton is still out there touring and speaking about the healing power of the gospel spirit. Back in the day, her voice was on dance... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Prague; Czech Pepublic: White Light, White Heat ...

Prague; Czech Pepublic: White Light, White Heat ...

Deep below a park in an outer suburb of Prague – some four narrow flights down a circular stairwell – is an extensive warren of chilly tunnels and bare rooms. This was a nuclear... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE COMMERCIAL ALBUM: Well, if you're so smart . . .

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE COMMERCIAL ALBUM: Well, if you're so smart . . .

The code for a commercially successful pop song is relatively simple to crack: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, a different but similar bit (usually referred to as the bridge or middle eight), then... > Read more