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Pere Ubu - Long Live Pere Ubu

  by Mark Rowland

published: 13 / 8 / 2009

Pere Ubu - Long Live Pere Ubu
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Format: CD


Menacing and visceral combination of punk energy and drama, comedy and art on latest album from Pere Ubu, which takes direct inspiration from the absurdist play 'Bring Me the Head of Ubu Roi'

Pere Ubu’s latest album gets off to a savage start with ‘Ubu Overture’, with juddering guitars and marching drums and frontman David Thomas chanting “Ubu” over and over. The album, ‘Long Live Pere Ubu’, is directly inspired by the play that gave Pere Ubu their name, ‘Bring Me the Head of Ubu Roi’, with Thomas playing the ‘role’ of Pere Ubu, and Sarah Jane Morris playing ‘Mere Ubu’. ‘Song of the Grocery Police’ is the first track to give a real flavour of the album, with conversational, half spoken vocals form Thomas and Morris, with Thomas' menacing rant gelling nicely with Morris’ Marianne Faithfull via Siouxsie Sioux delivery. The rest of the band ‘play’ other characters through their backing vocals. Although each track has its own individual merits, this is an album that really has to be taken as a whole. The music on the record mixes glitchy, ambient electronics, spidery post rock guitar, dissonant jazzy passages, semi-Birthday Party tongue in cheek horror, contemporary opera, and at one point, a chorus of belches. Most of the tracks, if taken individually, feel like a part of something bigger, although that does not mean they cannot be enjoyed on their individual merits. Sure, there is a sense of camp drama about many of the tracks, particularly on those featuring several voices in conversation, that brings to mind some of the more ambitious 70's prog albums. But this album is brimming with more gritty power than those albums, a punk menace that makes it seem as much about visceral energy as it is performance art. This is particularly true in the latter half of the album, with the songs ‘Bring Me the Head’, ‘Road to Reason’, Slowly I Turn’ and ‘Watching the Pidgeons’ in turn building tension, each rocking harder than the next, before the band turn it down a notch, for the drawn out, creepy ‘The Story So Far’, with Morris and Thomas relishing every whispered word. ‘Snowy Livonia’ is one of the shortest, sweetest tracks, the tension of the previous songs reduced and more subtle, a simple, repetitive keyboard part driving it forward, before, the short sharp finale, ‘Elsinore and Beyond’. ‘Long Live Pere Ubu’ could easily have been overblown and overstated, but by stripping back the absurdist play and using their strengths to build upon it, Pere Ubu have hit upon the right balance of drama, comedy and art. Their subsequent gig at London’s ICA in September promises to add choreography and visuals into the mix, so it should be quite an experience.

Track Listing:-
1 Ubu Overture
2 Song Of The Grocery Police
3 Banquet Of The Butchers
4 March Of Greed
5 Less Said The Better
6 Big Sombrero (Love Theme)
7 Bring Me The Head
8 Road To Reason
9 Slowly I Turn
10 Watching The Pigeons
11 The Story So Far
12 Snowy Livonia
13 Elsinore & Beyond

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