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Pere Ubu «» Lady From Shanghai (2013)

 Pere Ubu «» Lady From Shanghai (2013)

Pere Ubu — Lady From Shanghai
Formed: August 1975
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Album release: January 7, 2013
Record Label: Fire Records
Duration:     51:00
Tracks:
01. Thanks     2:15
02. Free White     2:29
03. Feuksley Ma'am, The Hearing     5:12
04. Mandy     7:14
05. And Then Nothing Happened     4:14
06. Musicians Are Scum     3:33
07. Another One (Oh Maybellene)     2:48
08. Road Trip Of Bipasha Ahmed     4:13
09. Lampshade Man     6:21
10. 414 Seconds     6:49
11. The Carpenter Sun     5:58
Credits:
Darryl Boon  Clarinet
Paul Hamann  Engineer
Alexandre Horn  Cover Design
Steve Mehlman  Drums, Organ, Vocals
Keith Moline  Bass, Guitar
Pere Ubu  Composer, Primary Artist
Michele Temple  Bass, Bells, Guitar
David Thomas  Korg Synthesizer, Organ, Piano, Producer, Roland MC-303, Vocals
John Thompson  Typography
Kathy Ward Thompson  Back Cover Photo
Robert Wheeler  Korg Synthesizer, Synthesizer
Members:
Tim Wright (1975-1976), Wayne Kramer (1998), Eric Drew Feldman (1989-1992), Jim Jones (1987-1995), Michelle Temple, Tony Maimone (1976-1993), Robert Wheeler, Keith Moliné, Garo Yellin (1993-1994), Allen Ravenstine (1975-1989), Steve Mehlman, Anton Fier (1982), Scott Krauss (1975-1994), Mayo Thompson (1979-1982), David Thomas, Chris Cutler (1987-1990), Tom Herman (1975-2002), Peter Laughner (1975-1976), Andy Diagram (2007)
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David Thomas (b.1953), voc; Tom Herman (b.1949), gtr; Peter Laughner (d. 1977), gtr; Mayo Thompson (b. 1944), gtr; Jim Jones (b.1950), gtr; Allen Ravenstine (b.1950), synth; Dave Taylor, synth; Eric Drew Feldman, synth; Tim Wright, bass; Tony Maimone (b.1952), bass; Scott Krauss (b.1950), drums; Anton Fier, drums; Chris Cutler (b. 1947), drums; Garo Yellin, cello; Michele Temple (b. 1959), bass; Robert Wheeler (b.1957), EML synthesizers & theremin; Scott Benedict, drums; Steve Mehlman (b.1971), drums; Wayne Kramer, gtr; Andy Diagram (b. 1959), trumpet.
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Evolving from Cleveland's Teutonic protopunks, Rocket From the Tomb, Pere Ubu was formed late in 1975 by Thomas (aka Crocus Behemoth) and guitarist Peter Laughner (who died in 1977). Ubu's classic early singles, "Heart Of Darkness" and "Final Solution," oozed restless angst way before it became the domain of spoiled mallrats. By 1978's aggressive The Modern Dance and the wilder Dub Housing, Pere Ubu's subversions of rock were guided by superior musicianship and fallout from Thomas's Jehovah's Witness upbringing. Personality quirks split the band, and Thomas regrouped for three more self-indulgent albums through 1982, including the abstract stare-down of The Art Of Walking, all with some difficult sonic perversion to recommend them.
After several Ubus found themselves onstage in Thomas's Wooden Birds, the band was revived for 1988's The Tenement Year. With newfound focus, Pere Ubu unleashed the ravishing funhouse pop experiment of 1989's Cloudland, which treated mainstream textures like found sounds. The sparkling pop, dented by Thomas's unique warble, continued with the gently peculiar Worlds In Collision. But Ubu tired of the total pop concept and returned to quirkier pursuits for Story Of My Life. Tim Kerr Records picked up the ball with 1995's full-bodied Ray Gun Suitcase--a mix of Ubu's vicious rock, luscious pop and art-damaged identities--and a series of multimedia-enhanced EPs, for which Thomas programmed the codes.
Website: www.ubuprojex.net
Facebook: www.facebook.com/official.ubu
Description:
Smash the Hegemony of Dance. Stand still. Pere Ubu return with their first new studio album for over three years in January 2013, the thirty-fifth anniversary of the group's debut (The Modern Dance). Lady From Shanghai is to be released on new label Fire Records (home to Guided by Voices, Mission of Burma, Giant Sand, Bailterspace, Josephine Foster and many others). The album ushers in a new era in the history of Pere Ubu, with David Thomas and band continuing to provoke and shock listeners, further establishing them as one of the most innovative, progressive and important bands of all time. Lady from Shanghai is an album of dance music it is the Ubu Dance Party. "The dancer is the puppet of the dance," says singer David Thomas. "It's long past time somebody puts an end to this abomination. Lady From Shanghai has fixed the problem. "What is the problem? Dance encourages the body to move without permission." An accompanying book 'Chinese Whispers: The Making of Lady From Shanghai' will be launched around the same time, extensively exploring the ideas and methods behind the recording. The Pere Ubu project was supposed to be an end, not a beginning. Assembled in August 1975 to be the Crosby Stills Nash & Young of the Cleveland music underground, the plan was to record one, maybe two singles and exist no more. Within months, however, those first self-produced records were being snapped up in London, Paris, Manchester, New York and Minneapolis. Pere Ubu was changing the face of rock music. Over the next 34 years they defined the art of cult; refined the voice of the outsider; and inspired the likes of Joy Division, Pixies, Husker Du, Henry Rollins, REM, Sisters of Mercy, Thomas Dolby, Bauhaus, Julian Cope and countless others. Pere Ubu make a music that is a disorienting mix of midwestern groove rock, "found" sound, analog synthesizers, falling-apart song structures and careening vocals. It is a mix that has mesmerized critics, musicians and fans for decades.
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By Alex R Wilson (http://www.tinymixtapes.com) Rating: 3/5
Styles: post-punk, as it has always been and maybe always will be
Others: David Thomas, The Two Pale Boys, Rocket From The Tombs
Chinese Whispers, David Thomas’ accompanying book to Pere Ubu’s Lady From Shanghai, explains the album’s process as this: “the goal was to meticulously apply a Chinese Whispers methodology to the composition and recording of a coherent and complex musical work.” The Chinese Whispers, which, much like the Chinese finger trap, is not an actual Chinese product and refers to the children’s/drinking game (a.k.a. “telephone”), intends to apply a sort of social deviation to a spoken phrase, and the result is usually humorous. I’ll spare you from rehashing the conceptual depth/intent of Lady From Shanghai and will instead follow the shared result between the social game and Thomas’ theory: Humor. The first track of the album, “Thanks,” is the most obvious example. Hearing Thomas sing “You can go to he-e-e-e-el, go to hell” in the tune of Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell” is funny, maybe a little gimmicky, but the nature of the game rests on the expected result of a gimmick. Essentially, if this is where the theory is exemplified in practice, it’s after this song that it ends, and Thomas and Co. seek to answer a language within the album’s phrase of “fixed dance music” by way of damage, which is also where the rest of the album is tested on its concepts.
From the available excerpt from Chinese Whispers, I find this assertion from Thomas most relevant and interesting: “I don’t experiment. I know what I’m doing. I don’t build roads — I find them.” What is most effective about the language that Pere Ubu establish (and have been effectively establishing for 15 albums or so) is regarding rock experimentalism/expressionism as the form in which constraints are made, not ignored. This is a well-worn cliché that associates “avant-garde” with unchecked do-whatever-ism. When Pere Ubu take these sorts of temporary glimpses of pop music in vague forms and constrains them with damage — warping “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on “Feuksley Ma’am, The Hearing” or the split second/damaged intro guitar riff from Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” on “Musicians Are Scum” — it’s clear these roads are well-known, almost to the point of absurdity. So an absurdist rendition of musical language that feels dated and absurd in itself?
This seems to be the album’s hangup. The concept is pretty intriguing at first, not just in context of Pere Ubu’s history and creative methodology, but also because the execution does occasionally yield wonderful results. But this process is hardly unique, not only for the creation process, but also for the listener. Music is one large mondegreen, a social activity of massive mishearing. The “telephone” game is already inherent in any active participation in music itself by both artists and non-artists, and while the deliberation of inducing this quality in the recording is noteworthy, its deliberation has halted interpretation flat. Where do you go with that “Ring My Bell” bit? The commentary and the results seem fairly obvious, and with the presentation of forced chaos, the natural chaos that occurs outside of references, technique, and process seem depleted. This is the problem that Lady From Shanghai runs into on multiple listens: the concept understood, no longer intriguing, no longer as unique as it’s presented, runs out of interpretations on the final induction of every theory and concept highlighted.
What was that bit by John Peel in reference to The Fall — “They are always different; always the same?” One of (the many groups regarded as) post-punk’s greatest aspects: straddling the line between knowing and unknowing. This is one of the many wonderful aspects of David Thomas and Pere Ubu. Essentially, you know what you’re getting yourself into, but you’re not quite sure exactly what that experience will be like. Lady From Shanghai has these moments, but it’s so weighted by its hope to mean something conceptually that it occasionally ceases to mean something else or, even better, mean nothing. But this is not a group to become “predictable” in any sense; Pere Ubu are still fully capable of invention. As much as I wish Thomas would embrace not knowing, or unknowing, there is a sense of the undercurrent “experimentalism” attached to this band and the post-punk movement in general. Besides, who really knows what “experimental” means anyway?
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Also:
By Heather Phares (http://www.allmusic.com) Rating: ***½
By Jon Clark (http://drownedinsound.com) Rating: 6/10
By Jonathan Patrick (http://www.slantmagazine.com) Rating: 2/5
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Discography:
(1975) 30 Seconds Over Tokyo/Heart of Darkness
(1976) Final Solution/Cloud 149
(1976) Street Waves/My Dark Ages (I Don't Get Around)
(1977) The Modern Dance+/Heaven
+ This single version of "The Modern Dance" is not the same mix as the subsequent album and all reissues of the track (with the railroad spike). This makes this single (with the doll squeak) the only place to find the original mix.
Studio albums:
(1978) The Modern Dance
(1978) Dub Housing
(1979) New Picnic Time
(1980) The Art of Walking
(1982) Song of the Bailing Man
(1988) The Tenement Year
(1989) Cloudland
(1991) Worlds in Collision
(1993) Story of My Life
(1995) Ray Gun Suitcase
(1998) Pennsylvania
(2002) St. Arkansas
(2006) Why I Hate Women
(2009) "Long Live Père Ubu!"
(2013) The Lady From Shanghai
Live albums:
(1981) 390° of Simulated Stereo (live)
(1989) One Man Drives While the Other Man Screams (live)
(1999) Apocalypse Now (live)
(2000) The Shape of Things (live)
(2009) London Texas (live)
Other releases:
(1985) Terminal Tower (collection of singles and b-sides)
(1996) Folly of Youth (enhanced EP)
(1996) B Each B Oys See Dee Plus (enhanced EP)
(1996) Datapanik in Year Zero (boxed set) © Pere Ubu Performing "Long Live Pere Ubu!" at WUK Vienna, October 11, 2009/Author: Sonictruth

 

Pere Ubu «» Lady From Shanghai (2013)

 

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