Music

Pere Ubu: 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo

The underground rock outfit, Pere Ubu, returns with 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo, re-establishing its off-kilter take on the rock music form.


Pere Ubu

20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo

Label: Cherry Red
US Release Date: 2017-09-29
UK Release Date: 2017-09-29
Amazon
iTunes

The fact that Pere Ubu has been flying under the radar for the majority, if not the entirety, of the band's career is at the same time surprising and somewhat expected. Retaining an excellent balance between the sound that defined the late '70s to mid-'80s, in new wave and post-punk, and at the same time layering that foundation with avant-garde augmentations, Pere Ubu is not a very easy band to follow. Aspects of musique concrete and krautrock notions living beside blues and garage rock is a strange mix, no matter how successful Pere Ubu was in nailing the bizarre cocktail.

Revolving around main man, vocalist David Thomas, the line-up of the band has constantly been changing, but that is not something that has slowed the band's prolific output. Since its inception back in the mid-'70s, Pere Ubu has remained active and is about to release its 16th full-length in 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo, following the highly bizarre, even by the band's standards, Carnival of Souls. The band's 2014 album was a tour de force of experimental rock, diving headfirst into the avant-garde depths and unearthing a terrifying gem of a record. Tracks like the mysterious “Doctor Faustus” and the colossal “Brother Ray” are some of the most compelling material the band has ever released.

In that respect 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo does not share the same dark, exploratory sense of its predecessor. Still elements of that quality exist, as in “Plan From Flag 9”, which is based on samples and minimal instrumentation accommodating a spoken word-like performance by Thomas. Always retaining this off-kilter essence, alongside an almost sadistic view towards structure, as the track reaches the promise of a crescendo that never arrives, Pere Ubu still display this intricacy when it comes to compositions. The mysterious and mesmerizing tonality of “I Can Still See” is another moment of this hypnotic experimentalism, as it slowly puts you under Pere Ubu's spell and drags you in the band's realm.

The majority of the record, however, focuses on establishing Pere Ubu's vision of its original influences. The manner in which the record kicks things off with “Monkey Bizness” is an astounding example of the act's surf rock mutation. The tone is vibrant, and there is something electrifying about Pere Ubu when the band explores the standard rock form and interprets it through hooking choruses and bombastic verses, as they appear in “Red Eyes Blues” and the '70s rock-influenced “Swampland”. Similar is the scope of the blues influence, in the garage driven “Funk 49” and the typical blues progression of “Howl” and “Walking Again”. All these moments are reinterpreted by Pere Ubu, crafting a psychedelic driven, experimental take on each genre, where the background is altered by projecting avant-garde notions, through the strange synth sounds. That is particularly effective in the album's “power ballad”, the fantastic “The Healer” which through its surreal context brilliantly exposes both the adventurous spirit and the sentimental underbelly of Pere Ubu.

20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo displays a side of Pere Ubu that is more familiar than Carnival of Souls. Taking a step back, the band manages to tangle all the aspects that make its music so enticing and driven, may it be surf rock riffs and blues rhythms, or experimental sonic manipulation and avant-garde thinking. The short duration of the tracks, about three minutes on average, and the fantastic guitar performances enhance the experience, enriching the various twists and turns Pere Ubu travels.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.