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Pere Ubu - St Arkansas

  by Jon Rogers

published: 19 / 9 / 2005

Pere Ubu - St Arkansas
Label: Glitterhouse Records
Format: CD


Re-release of angular Cleveland rockers Pere Ubu's twelfth album, which while not perhaps on the same level as classic albums such as 'Dub Housing' and 'The Modern Dance' isn't too far off

Musicians may come and go in Pere Ubu, but like Mark E Smith in the Fall, David Thomas is the one constant in this critically acclaimed avant-rock 'n' roll band. Now their 12th studio album gets a new lease of life after the band has been going some 30 years. 'St Arkansas' is seemingly a loosely concocted concept album about a travelling salesman as he works the US highways in his suit and tie. His life though is falling apart. Pere Ubu venture into unmarked aural territory; pioneering obtuse, angular rhythms that many wouldn't touch for the sake of their careers. Thomas and co. though plough straight on regardless. If only more did so. 'St Arkansas' is claustrophobic, brooding and black as the nameless antihero sinks from "loving that highway" in 'Slow Walking Daddy' to simply driving "to fill a sense of purpose" in the 9-minute finale of 'Dark'. In between, Pere Ubu sweep the story along from slow, laborious meanderings to crashing chords and mixing up tempos, time signatures, tone and mood - usually, all in the same song. Many avant-garde rock bands though often border on the verge of being unlistenable: forsaking melody and tune for wilful experimentation. Pere Ubu though never stray that far. The standout track, 'Dark', while plodding along with a monolithic, repetitive phrase and with Thomas' voice remaining virtually static, still manages to captivate and intrigue as the antihero seemingly comes (metaphorically) to the end of the existential road. 'St Arkansas' might not be on the same level as the band's classic albums like 'Dub Housing' and 'The Modern Dance' but it isn't too far off.

Track Listing:-
1 The Fevered Dream Of Hernando DeSoto
2 Slow Walking Daddy
3 Michele
4 333
5 Hell
6 Lisbon
7 Mr Steve
8 Phone Home Jonah
9 Where's The Truth 2
10 Dark

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