Pere Ubu: Carnival of Souls (Fire / Southbound)

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Pere Ubu: Road to Utah
Pere Ubu: Carnival of Souls (Fire / Southbound)

With so much music codified into genres and artists reluctant to alienate an audience, Pere Ubu remain refreshingly abrasive, marginal and theatrically challenging.

Frontman David Thomas has barely toned down the confrontational sound they deployed when emerging out of Cleveland in the late Seventies.

Their early albums The Modern Dance (an Essential Elsewhere album, see here) and Dub Housing are still not for the fearful.

Here the gently brooding Visions of the Moon is cut across by serrated feedback; Dr Faustus mines Tom Waits' unease but delivers its own unsettling creaks and theremin; and Road to Utah has a Gothic menace.

Some of these nine songs have developed from atmospheric music which accompanied screenings of the '62 cult film of the same name, but Ubu music always creates a context of its own, and makes literary and pop culture references (96 Tears, the Doors and I Put A Spell on You among them).

For those who like B-grade horror, films like Freaks and Eraserhead, psychological thrillers and the sound of Poe being read while someone plays the Plan 9 From Outer Space soundtrack.

Some have a disturbing beauty, notably the fragile Irene and the 12 minute Brother Ray which is spoken word-cum-nightmare music.

Ubu: still different after all these years.

Elsewhere has a fascinating archival interview with David Thomas here, and other Pere Ubu albums -- and their extraordinary single 30 Seconds of Tokyo -- can be found here

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