Pere Ubu

20 Years in a Montana Silo

Cherry Red/MVD

Sep 28, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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Wanting to call their new album "Bruce Springsteen is an Asshole," only to later change their mind to call it "Robert DeNiro is an Asshole," Pere Ubu ultimately settled on 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo. Despite any rational explanation, the band that invented futuristic gutter blues crawls deep into its own legacy to pull from it a muddling collection of searing sounds that transfer their rich past into the dilapidated present. David Thomas, Pere Ubu's only original member, defies contemporary pristine production values convoluting most releases today by denuding each track, stripping it down to its bare essence.

Recorded with long-time collaborator and engineer Paul Hamann, 20 Years lights the fuse on the shrill opening track "Monkey Bizness," exploding into a realm of agoraphobic dread while restricted to the confines of traditional garage rock structure. Pere Ubu's guttural rendition of James Gang's "Funk 49" sounds as if guitarist Joe Walsh's signature song always belonged to Thomas; in fact, it is less a reworking of the classic track and more a grating abstraction of mangled blues.

Pere Ubu's real essence that inspired countless bands from Swans to Pixies is the seemingly out-of-place synth work within garage rock's ethos. Robert Wheeler's analog synths clash with Thomas' growl on "Plan from Frag 9," a burdensome sound with a touch of Sun Ra's freedom to soar above traditional garage rock conventions. "Howl" reveals more of Pere Ubu's palette, widely taken from The Red Krayola's own psychedelic experimentation within a thick haze of blues.

Lost on this current generation's stream and skip listening habits is the anthropological context of Thomas' focus on how art and culture help to shape each other. 20 Years to new listeners to Pere Ubu's sound should not begin here; however, if they do, they should embrace the experience and imagine a time when it wasn't a crime for musicians to risk everythinglife and limbto push humanity past religious, governmental, and societal conventions, creating new ways to think, feel, and act. (

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