15 February 2007

Beautiful Frenzy

The Ex have easily been one of my favourite bands since a couple of music-nerd friends introduced me to them about five years ago. They came out the late 70s/ early 80s squatting scene in Amsterdam and played a predictable raucous punk-noise that you might expect from this era. While I like that type of music, it isn’t going to keep me interested in a band for long. However, The Ex soon started adding new elements to their music from industrial and experimental sounds, trumpets and saxophones. Then they began to explore improv and ‘Instant’ music as the Dutch call it. By the early 1990s, they were making albums with the likes of experimental cellist Tom Cora, who plugged in his cello and thrashed the hell out of it while exploring eastern European folk tunes. By the end of the 1990s/ early 2000s, The Ex were still pushing boundaries and travelling around Africa discovering new music and musicians.

Members of The Ex have been responsible for introducing the world to such cultural phenomenons as the magnificent Konono No 1, a group of musicians from the Congo. The story goes, they moved from the country into the city and feared their ancestors would no longer hear their music above the endless din of the urban setting and so they rigged up crude amplification systems using used car parts. The result is astonishing. Try to imagine groovy tribal music, delivered through a blast of industrial/ electronic distortion.

Even though I have not played music since I smashed up my school’s bass trombone at age fourteen, The Ex have provided limitless inspiration for Foulweather. To this day they remain true to their DIY roots, anarcho inspired politics and are constantly pushing musical and cultural boundaries.

Most recently The Ex put out a record they did with legendary Ethiopian Saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria. While, I have enjoyed almost everything The Ex has ever put out, I always wonder if they can keep their music relevant and cutting edge after nearly thirty years. I’m not sure if the album is going to be released over here but an MP3 of a sample track is thankfully available online. Like any collaboration with The Ex, this is seemingly a match made in heaven.

Whenever, I feel like vomiting after being forced to consume too much of what passes for culture, I just turn on and tune into The Ex for stimulation. And hope.

Getatchew Mekuria and The Ex:
"Eywat Setenafegagn"