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

Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello: My Brave Face (1988 demo)

Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello: My Brave Face (1988 demo)

Elsewhere recently essayed at length the expended reissue of Paul McCartney's album Flowers in the Dirt from 1989, the album the returned him to critical favour after many lesser albums in the... > Read more

Ron Wood: Seven Days (1979)

Ron Wood: Seven Days (1979)

Back when he was "the salaried Stone", guitarist Ron Wood -- before he became Ronnie -- was regularly knocking out solo albums. Of course he could call on some stellar assistance and... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GETTING OLDER (2010: A greybeard still here

GETTING OLDER (2010: A greybeard still here

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to the movies and, for the first time, I took advantage of what I am calling “Senior Discount”. The polite young man behind the counter... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Nick Mc Grath of Sparrow Thieves

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Nick Mc Grath of Sparrow Thieves

Last week Elsewhere was pleased to introduce, Lethargic Caffeine, the debut album by Southland's Sparrow Thieves noting gthat it betrayed a maturity of songwriting and an economy of pop-rock into... > Read more