Some 35 years after they starting blurring the lines between punk and art rock, Pere Ubu are back with Lady From Shanghai, out now on Fire Records.
Along with leader David Thomas, this is the line-up of this incarnation of the Ubu:
David Thomas - vocals, piano, xiosynth, Korg iMS-20, Monotron, Roland 303, organ
Keith Moliné - guitar, bass
Robert Wheeler - EML synthesizer, Grendel Drone Commander, Korg iMS-20, and SNM Cacophonator II
Gagarin - digital electronica, piano, organ
Michele Temple - bass, guitar, bells
Steve Mehlman - drums, vocals, organ
Darryl Boon - clarinet
"Thanks" and "Free White" (which you can play below) kick things off in a clatter of keyboard noise. Recalling early Nineties-era Mark E. Smith and his Fall, David Thomas leads this line-up of Ubu through its paces. The tunes are subdued but sinister, rolling rhythms and troublesome undercurrents.
Other cuts here, like "Mandy", bear traces of modern classical music, for lack of a better description. Add in those Tom Waits-like vocals of David Thomas, and the effect is one of mournfulness and menace.
"And Then Nothing Happened" and the marvelously-named "Musicians are Scum" use more traditional rock forms. They are the accessible bits on Lady From Shanghai.
"Lampshade Man" continues that Fall vibe (though Pere Ubu were surely an influence on The Fall, if I had to guess). And "414 Seconds" rocks along across familiar Ubu territory.
If Thomas and his band are less loud, to put it bluntly, they are no less adventurous. Never an easy band to write about, Pere Ubu were never entirely so rock 'n' roll as to be punk, nor were they the sort of folks who'd indulge in that Zappa-style wankery.
No they charted their own territory. Lady From Shanghai continues that journey. It's brash, abrasive music but it's also a rewarding listen for most fans of this band.
Follow Pere Ubu on their awesome website:
Or on the Fire Records website: