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    Pere ubu the modern dance

    pere ubu the modern dance

    Discover and play music albums featuring pere ubu - modern dance (7/4/78 peter balls party, bratenahl ohio) by clevelandlivemusic on desktop and mobile. The debut album by Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance is the realization of group leader David Thomas's (a.k.a. Crocus Behemoth) high-concept vision of a rock band. Pere Ubu – The Modern Dance (LP – New). $19.99. Collecting the bracing and brilliant Pere Ubu in their earliest incarnation, with the devastating one-two.
    pere ubu the modern dance

    Pere ubu the modern dance -

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    From SilverWalrus 04/08/2013 07:20

    Not quite a masterpiece to me yet, but I could see it growing on me more.

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    Graded on a Curve:
    Pere Ubu,
    The Modern Dance

    A simple rule of thumb; if you’re going to name your band after a character from Alfred Jarry’s infamous play Ubu Roi, it behooves you to make music in the same spirit of savage satire, grotesquerie, and scorn that categorized Jarry’s play. A tall order, that. It requires inner resources of mockery, and an abandonment of all conventional notions of what constitutes rock music in favor of Dada-like convulsions of laughter and dread. And who’s up for all that?

    Pere Ubu, that’s who. Cleveland’s “avant-garage” (their term) band was formed in 1975, when influential protopunkers Rocket From the Tombs imploded, leaving maniacal vocalist David Thomas and guitarist Peter Laughner to form Pere Ubu along with guitarist Tom Herman, bassist Tim Wright, drummer Scott Krauss, and synthesist Allen Ravenstine. Rocket From the Tombs played it ferocious and fast; Pere Ubu, on the other hand, played it loud and strange. Their 1978 debut, The Modern Dance, combined a few relatively straight-ahead rockers (“Non-Alignment Pact,” “Street Waves,”) with all manner of weirdness: odd and frenetic vocals by Thomas (aka “Crocus Behemoth”), strange and deviant synthesizer noise from Ravenstine, free jazz skronk, musique concrete, and distorted guitars, all of it seemingly based on the presumption that twisted music makes for twisted minds. Or should that be vice versa?

    Whichever, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that while NYC bands like The Talking Heads were establishing a reputation for being “weird” by virtue of mere twitchiness, Pere Ubu, which was stuck in Ohio, was recording music that made The Talking Heads sound like The Archies. And I like The Talking Heads. I’ll freely admit to not liking Pere Ubu the first time I heard them, in Cleveland to boot, but I’d be willing to bet that disliking Pere Ubu’s first album is a not uncommon occurrence; they were just too dissonant and unrelentingly strange for most untutored ears. Frank Zappa had long played with similar elements, but he was no punker and specialized in jejune humor for young adolescents, while Pere Ubu specialized in the themes of alienation, angst, and paranoia (subjects that Pere Ubu did have in common with The Talking Heads).

    The strange thing about Pere Ubu—well, one of the 125 strange things about Pere Ubu—is that their singles were much more accessible than the tracks on The Modern Dance. Perhaps that isn’t so strange, really; your normal band wants its singles to shine. But Pere Ubu put our a good half of a greatest hits LP in singles, including the great “Final Solution”; “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” (a book I’ve read numerous times; you don’t want to miss the great leg amputation scene); “Street Waves”; and a different version of “The Modern Dance.”

    Laughner—a doomed character and heir to Alfred Jarry’s reputation for not taking too much, besides lethal combinations of drugs and booze, seriously–left the band before The Modern Dance was recorded, and died shortly thereafter due to acute pancreatic failure at the ripe old age of 24, which is not an easy feat to pull off. Lester Bangs wrote an incredibly moving essay about his dope-fiend friend, who once spent an evening scouring the PDR for a pill he couldn’t identify. I did the exact same thing once; it had little spots on it, but I couldn’t tell if they were mold or supposed to be there.

    Anyway, this is not an opinion piece on Peter Laughner but a review of The Modern Dance. So let’s commence dancing, shall we? Opener “Non-Alignment Pact” is the LP’s big single, although I’m not certain it was ever released as such. It opens with some squealing by Ravenstine’s synthesizer, then a very cool melody emerges and takes off. As for Thomas’ vocals you’ve never heard anything like them, as Ravenstine makes bird noises behind them and the super-duper catchy chorus has you singing along. Ravenstine’s synths get weirder and weirder as Thomas repeats the chorus, and then it’s over. As for “The Modern Dance” it’s also accessible, although there’s a middle section where Ravenstine employs tape loops of a crowd followed by one of the stranger guitar solos I’ve ever heard. Thomas does nothing outlandish vocally but he captures the spirit of the tune perfectly. “Laughing” is a strange bird, with the horns contributing some atonal jazz noodling until Thomas enters with roar of punk to sing, “My baby says/And if the devil comes we’ll shoot him with a gun.” Then the shades of Albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders return with more jazz and Thomas repeats singing lines like, “My baby says/We can live in the empty spaces of this life/My baby says/Far away the stars are all coming undone.”

    “Street Waves” is, as mentioned, a relatively accessible tune, and is distinguished by Thomas’ vocals, Ravenstine’s synthesizer, and an honest to god great guitar solo. It goes into a long interlude during which Ravenstine reproduces the sounds of space before Thomas returns to sing, ”I ride a street wave right by her side/And I can hear the city city comin’ round/The things I say hit the air and seem to fall apart/And I can see the faces faces fallin’ down/And then I’m/Gone.” “Chinese Radiation” is a great name for a song and opens with some strummed acoustic guitars and exotic fills by Ravenstine, then the bassist comes in and the guitarist plays some Hawaiian music or some such. Then the song segues into what sounds like a live show, with Thomas shouting as the crowd roars like they’re watching the 1964 Beatles. Then a piano takes over and Thomas sings a few lines before shutting down the tune.

    “Life Stinks” is a punk number written by Laughner before his exit from the band, and it’s a chaotic take—complete with horns and deranged vocals by Thomas—that tackles a subject near and to the late Laughner’s heart—namely booze. The lyrics, all nine short stanzas of them, are simple but direct: the last five lines go, “I like the Kinks/I need a drink/I can’t think/I like the Kinks/Life stinks.” That was my philosophy for a long time, and the only difference was I preferred Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night and The Meat Puppets to any bunch of effete and clever Limeys. “Real World” falls into the realm of I don’t know what—drone? It consists of Thomas and some others repeating “Out in the real world/In real time,” ad infinitum, with mutant synthesizers in the background. Finally the song dissolves into a crashing din, with the drummer blazing a trail of pure noise while Thomas provides some maniacal laughter.

    The slow “Over My Head” opens with Thomas singing quietly to some minimal backup. Then somebody plays a happening guitar riff and Ravenstine plays post-apocalyptic synth. The drums are rudimentary and great. As for “Sentimental Journey,” it should be credited as having the first bottle-breaking solo. Meanwhile Ravenstine plays saxophone and makes lots of great synth noise, as the song sorta speeds up a little only to slow down again, giving Thomas, accompanied by what sounds like a squawking bird, to sing/speak as if he’s in a trance. The band then proceeds to play some rapid-fire noise rock, after which Thomas delivers one of the greatest and strangest vocal performances I’ve ever heard—it even includes a raspberry. Then comes the sound of somebody sweeping up broken glass, and that’s that.

    “Humor Me” has Thomas talking over one deranged synth riff and drum. He goes on in this vein until he cries, “It’s a joke man! It’s just a joke man! It’s just a joke man!” Then some handclaps come in followed by an excellent and wiry guitar solo. And Thomas, sounding certifiably loony tunes, cries “Humor me” over and over. On this one his singing reminds me of David Byrne—tormented, paranoid, and insistent.

    Returning to Alfred Jarry for a moment, one critic wrote of him that his “teaching could be summarized thus: every man is capable of showing his contempt for the cruelty and stupidity of the universe by making his own life a poem of incoherence and absurdity.” I have no doubt that David Thomas, who has remained the only constant in a band that is still making Dadaist statements with its music, feels the same way. “Humor me” is a cry of contempt for that cruel and stupid universe, which isn’t very funny at all. Life’s idea of a punch line is a joke followed by a fist, and David Thomas wants nothing to do with it. It makes perfect sense that Jarry’s Ubu Roi should open with the word “Merde!” The world may be shit, but Thomas has refused to budge an inch in the face of its shittiness. No, he’s too busy turning his life into a poem of incoherence and absurdity, and we’re all the better off for it.


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    This album was surprisingly fun to listen to, although I found the last ten minutes or so more of a trial than I typically like.

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    From Lizardlips 12/04/2016 12:59

    One of my all time favorites. Brilliant! A masterpiece.
    I first heard this masterpiece in 1980 at universty, and although it sounds relatively tame in 2017, in 1978 'The Modern Dance' was a radical revolutionary new kind of music, birthed in punk - soaked in experimentation and sophistication.
    It has dated well, an exceptional work.

    Helpful?  (Log in to vote) The Modern Dance

    Pere Ubu

    The Modern Dance

    Released 1978 on Cooking Pere ubu the modern dance Reviewed by spoogleman, 16/01/2003ce

    Pere Ubu – The Modern Dance

    The Modern Dance, the first record that can be accurately described as “post-punk”, was recorded in 1976 and 1977, and finally broke the surface of the US underground sometime in 1978. Chronologically speaking, it’s a close thing because by this stage British groups like Magazine and Joy Division were beginning to explore different attitudes and emotions that transcended the pre-adolescent frustrations of the original punks. But Ubu were definitely the first. And no other group had explored urban decay in such a celebratory, squew-whiff, living breathing HUMAN manner. Compare David Thomas’ hilarious Brian Ferry-meets-Kermit-the-frog-on-speed garblings to Lou Reeds deadpan narcotic drawl, and you’ll see how intent Pere Ubu were on rejecting the go-nowhere nihilism of the New York scene.

    Pere Ubu formed in 1975 out of the wreckage of Rocket from the Tombs, a garage punk band heavily indebted to the Velvet Underground and the Stooges. Peter Laughner, lead guitarist and sometime journalist had shaped the bands sound, resulting in two singles “30 seconds over Tokyo” and “Final Solution”. Laughner was eventually kicked out, his excessive alcohol and drug abuse having become intolerable. A year later, he was dead. This I think served as a wake up call to the rest of the band, whose subsequent recordings are a dada free-for-all of free-jazz-dub, musique concrete and synthesizer madness. Pere Ubu took the decay and alienation manifested in Laughners death, and the industrial wastes of their native Cleveland, and turned it into a gleeful, absurdist joke.

    This record represents Ubu’s first steps down this road, and it citizens bank and trust rogersville al explodes with ideas. Ranging from the garage-glam cabaret of “Non-Alignment Pact”, the film noir blind alleys of “Laughing” and “Real World”, to their own “European Son”, six minutes of synthesiser hoots, broken glass, scratchy guitar and David Thomas taking it all in with a kind of weird reverence (“Its Home/its Home…”), that comprises “Sentimental Journey”.

    It’s a surprisingly psychedelic record, thanks mainly to Allen Ravenstine’s brilliant synthesizer work. Sometimes a steam whistle, pistons, a platoon of alley cats, or just wind blowing across waste ground, Ravenstine fills the cracks in the music to create an eerie, hallucinatory dubscape for Thomas to run amok in. Incidentally, Thomas’ “singing” is never less than spellbinding, whinnying like a demented billy-goat, emitting nasal squawks and laughing like an over-excited toddler. He peppers the songs with delicious one-liners, (“I coulda made up that joke – Haw-haw-haw!”) and competes with the free jazz saxophones for dissonance. Elsewhere he is quiet mumbling drunken heartbroken lullaby sweet-nothings to the ghost town he just can’t help loving to bits. The humanity and warmth of his singing is only really comparable to Captain Beefheart, or maybe a tone-deaf, Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison (maybe not, but you’ll see what I mean)

    But that’s not to say this isn’t a band effort. Ubu were heavily into reggae rhythms and boy this record sure is funky as a result. Tom Herman’s garagey guitar sometimes resembles a robot chuck berry, elsewhere shooting off ringing leads and punk-reggae squalls that are simultaneously crappy and terrifying. Coupled with Tony Maimone’s chunky bass (certainly an influence on Joy Division Peter Hook and countless Brit post-punkers) and Scott Krauss’ drumming (a brilliant hybrid of Free Jazz clatter and funereal Mo Tucker tom-toms), the three throw thrilling shades of trebly menace. Closing track “Humor Me” is a candidate for best ever white boy punk/reggae track, and certainly equals anything by the Clash. Its also one of the best album closers I’ve heard, reminiscent of the Specials “Ghost Town” a spooky, funny skank with a killer bassline and David Thomas being weirded out by some ne’er do wells, evidently pissed off at his capering, while a police siren echoes in the background. The track fades, cue end credits.

    Like all things Ubu, The Modern Dance is a record heavily indebted to its surroundings, with the band lost in their own post-industrial fever dream of decay set in a parallel universe Cleveland that offers no escape. But at the same time, this record is a send up, a noir cabaret that celebrates the shitheap the band grew up in, thereby transcending it. Pere ubu the modern dance several steps ahead of their contemporaries, Pere Ubu would consolidate their vision with Dub Housing, (which at the time of writing this reviewer had still not received from amazon, goddammit!), but this record was where it began. The Modern Dance pulls no punches; it’s a frightening, dissonant, chaotic, delirious record, but with beating heart and soul and ear-to-ear pere ubu the modern dance like few others. Like David Thomas says on “Humor Me” – “Its just a joke, mon!!”

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    From SilverWalrus 04/08/2013 07:20

    Not quite a masterpiece to pere ubu the modern dance yet, but I could see it growing on me more.

    Helpful?  (Log in to vote)

    As a 30-something white male who lives in California, I’m probably expected to choose the complete works of Pearl Jam for my leisure listening. I can assure you I do not. (No offense to anyone who does, but it’s not my scene.) There’s a punchline here—”Leisure listening? Who does that?!”—but despite conning a number of different editors into deciding it’s a good idea to pay me to write about music, I do in fact listen to music for fun. All the time! Even when it’s work, it’s for fun. “Research” that consists of listening to music you like? Or could potentially like? Or might become a future favorite? Sounds like a good time to me!

    But over time what’s appealed to me has pere ubu the modern dance. I have comfort listens—a lot, in fact! I have albums I listen to for the familiar favorites, the hits, and so on. But I also have albums I listen to because they don’t click the first time. Sometimes I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, or that the elements are there, but they come together pere ubu the modern dance such a way that my brain processes them in a way that has me intrigued, but I still haven’t solved the puzzle, so to speak. A perfect example is This Heat’s Deceit, one of my all time favorite albums, and one that compelled me on first listen, but didn’t entirely make sense to me.

    Pere Ubu’s debut album The Modern Dance is another. It’s not like Deceit, in that it’s not a continuously warped and alien interpretation of what I once understood rock music to be. It’s basically a punk album that has a bunch of really other fucked up stuff thrown in. Honestly, the first handful of tracks are all pretty accessible, catchy even. “Non-alignment Pact”? Punk anthem? “The Modern Dance”? Nothing but groove! But once you get deeper into the album, you run into material like “Sentimental Journey,” which is weird sound effects, broken glass, eerie chants from David Thomas, basically the sound of walking through an abandoned, haunted asylum at 3 a.m. Creepy, entirely baffling stuff. So you can pere ubu the modern dance what I thought the first time I heard it. That said, the catchy half of the record was enough to bring me pere ubu the modern dance a good reason why this is considered a post-punk masterpiece.

    Over time, though, I found the more free-form ideas more interesting, and I specifically sought them out, chase bank business hours near me I think this album in part helped me develop an interest and understanding of noise music—along with albums like Nurse With Wound’s Homotopy for Marie and Throbbing Gristle’s catalog. That’s not necessarily what Pere Ubu does, nor what they’re known for—and they’ll be the first to tell you not to compare them to Captain Beefheart (I think there’s even an FAQ on the official Pere Ubu website that says something to that effect). But they’re a gateway of sorts.

    That said, this is a super fun record, and tracks like “Life Stinks!” are pretty much all intensity and energy, post-punk at its most aggressive and manic. When I bought this at Red Brontosaurus, the owner said “Hell yeah!” That’s always a good sign. Not that I’ve ever been given any sass from anyone at a record store—even when I bought a damn Pere ubu the modern dance record! I deserved it!—but I always appreciate the encouragement.

    Rating: 9.5

    Sound Quality: Great

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