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Tumult

The Ex

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Album Review

A Dutch group of communal anarchists (think of an Amsterdam-based Crass), the Ex are something of a rarity in political rock circles, in that their albums are at least as musically interesting as they are lyrically pungent. In the particular case of 1983's Tumult, the group's fourth album, its musical merit is at least partially due to the fact that Jon Langford of the Mekons and the Three Johns produced. Langford gives the band a slightly more structured sound, which turns out to be to their advantage; in so doing, Langford minimizes the group's obvious points of comparison (singer G.W. Sok sounds more than a little like the Fall's Mark E. Smith) and makes them sound more like their own band. The seven-minute opener, "Bouquet of Barbed Wire," builds slowly from a hypnotic guitar riff, adding instruments one at a time before exploding into an intense post-punk roar. The rest of the album continues in this defiant style, with the declamatory "Squat!" a musical and sociological high point, through the rest of this generous 13-track album. The closing "Island Race" ends with an industrial clanging that predates the early records by Test Department and Einsturzende Neubauten.

Biography

Formed: 1979 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Playing a hybrid of punk to advance their liberal socialist agenda (serving as the rough equivalent of a Dutch Crass), the Ex put out reams of records and propaganda during the '80s — each released on a different Dutch label — but in the '90s began to embrace industrial forms of percussion and improvisation more in line with Einstürzende Neubauten and Test Dept. Formed in the late '70s, the group debuted at the turn of the decade with Disturbing Domestic Peace. The year 1983 was...
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Tumult, The Ex
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