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

The J Geils Band: No Anchovies, Please (1980)

The J Geils Band: No Anchovies, Please (1980)

The J Geils Band out of Massachusetts is best known for their terrific single Angel in a Centrefold (aw, c'mon, it's great, in a rock'n'roll Benny Hill way . . . see clip below) and Freeze Frame --... > Read more

Bob Dylan: George Jackson (1971)

Bob Dylan: George Jackson (1971)

Even before he plugged in an electric guitar and changed the landscape of rock possibilties in the mid Sixties, Bob Dylan had left behind overtly political music and his "protest" period.... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE MUSIC MANAGERS FORUM AWARDS (2017): Hats off to those behind the scenes

THE MUSIC MANAGERS FORUM AWARDS (2017): Hats off to those behind the scenes

This time a year ago Elsewhere interviewed Teresa Paterson about the work of the Music Managers Forum, an industry organisation of people dedicated to improving the professionalism of music... > Read more

Youn Sun Nah: Same Girl (ACT/Southbound)

Youn Sun Nah: Same Girl (ACT/Southbound)

This sophisticated Korea-born singer who has long been based in Europe -- this is her seventh album, but only the second for Germany's ACT Music -- grew up with parents who were classical... > Read more