Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Like no other band on the planet, Holland's experimental punk band the Ex demonstrate that punk rock can encompass artistic dualities and still swing. The 11 forceful, buzzing, in-your-face songs on Starters Alternators (p... more »
Amazon.com's Best of 1998
Like no other band on the planet, Holland's experimental punk band the Ex demonstrate that punk rock can encompass artistic dualities and still swing. The 11 forceful, buzzing, in-your-face songs on Starters Alternators (produced by Steve Albini) are simultaneously political and personal, frenzied and beautiful, frenetic and tasteful. "Frenzy" and "Two Struck by the Moon" possess the taught, sharp delivery of early Wire, while "It's a Sin" sounds like Sonic Youth raised on Eastern European folk dirges. A simply tremendous record. --Mike McGonigal
Review taken from SONICNET by Douglas Wolk 11/98
scotty | chicago, il United States | 01/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With Starters Alternators, Dutch punk band The Ex mark their 20th year, and what's impressive is that they keep getting better. The only remaining original member is singer G.W. Sok, but the lineup that's been its core for the last decade or so has developed an instantly recognizable sonic vocabulary: frantic, multilayered polyrhythms; guitars used for bursts of noise and texture as much as for recognizable notes; high-speed percussion centered on clicks, taps, and unbelievably heavy snare and kick; Sok's heavily accented two-note roar occasionally swapped out for drummer Katrin's Eastern European folk-influenced soprano. Starters sounds a bit more raw than the Ex usually do, mostly because Steve Albini recorded it with his favorite trick: making drums sound like actual drums. On the opening "Frenzy," all we hear of Katrin for the first couple of minutes is a precise little tambourine part, as the guitarists play a clipped figure in a peculiar time signature over and over; then, finally, she switches to the drums and just about takes your head off. The Ex have always been tight and aggressive but here they're a garotte, so taut they cut through everything no matter how lightly they play. They've been immersing themselves in traditional and jazz forms -- as demonstrated on the superb Instant (1996), a double-CD of solo and small-group improvisations that drew on the Dutch jazz tradition of, what else, "instant composition."It was a logical step for a band that's not just fascinated by high and international culture, music and literature, but actively engaged in it: Starters Alternators includes deliciously abrasive settings of poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Stephen Crane and Zimbabwe's Egely Donadi. The latter, an overtly socialist/feminist poem called "Mother" ("Your sweat waters the infertile soil...You are the worker of the year/You are the best worker in the world" -- it's better than it sounds), is sung by Katrin, whose finely modulated yodel cuts through her clattering percussive barrage.As for the original lyrics, as usual, they're elliptical, politically engaged and sometimes very funny -- Sok has a better command of English wordplay than most native speakers. "Frenzy" is a history of international Marxism described by indirection and comedy: "That's when Lenin met McCarthy/And this, as far as I can see/Was the beginning of a beautiful frenzy." Only on the last track does the band show any signs of repeating itself, which for the Ex means covering a second song by the Hungarian folk group Muzsik·s, "Nem Ugy Van Most" (the first one was "Hidegen Fujnak A Szelek," a staple of their live show for years). They've grown into tremendous musicians without compromising their punk fury because they're more interested in the future of the world -- and all of its music -- than in their own past."
Worth the drive to Acton ... er, Holland
scotty | 03/20/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A beautiful frenzy?This particular slight of tongue, the penultimate moment of the superb opening track, frenzy, pretty well sums up this phenomenal record. (Well, actually, it doesn't. That's why I'm penning this review, right?) In fact, I can almost see the sods who created Starters Alternators squatting in unison chanting said mantra while the unassuming music gods took note.Jazz fan? The Ex's guitars mirror the best Coltrane sax adventure. Hell, these dutchmen (and women) have managed to get their guitars to sound like tubas with the ebola virus. Not relying on staid wall-of noise technique, the guitar assault probes and pokes at the right moments, rising to a thunderclap at others. At times its amazing such cacophony can be created by man and string alone. Rather, it mirrors the sound your blender makes when you throw in a pile of metal shards. Yes, Steve Albini is a self-indulgentjerk. But I can't think of a producer that constantly pushes his clients to their creative and musical peak. The bass sound that arises on lets panic later sounds like these Dutch chaps and gals stringing the vocal chords of Barry White himself into the worlds largest and most hollow acoustic. The rhythm section does little more than any dimwit with arms and some physical stamina can do, but instead of lying behind the surface it reaches behind you when your attention wanes and grabs you two-fisted by the cerebellum and pulls you back into the track. If Pavement has proved anything to the conventional rock world its that your lyrical approach has to be at least as varied as your song structures. Good bands, Ex, included, realize that listening to some half-witted dropout scream about the government is about as entertaining as Pat Buchanan screaming about the government. Vocalists G.W Sok and Katrin help themselves to heaping servings of irony, humor. Literary reference and high falutin critique. Frenzy is a dialectic where Sok jumps between Karl and Grocho Marx, not so much blurring the line but never recognizing it exists. It's a sin takes a Stephen Crane confessional and smothers it with jabbing, needle sharp guitars which sound like a cheap sax drowning. The Art of Losing plods forward with shimmering dissonance and Sok chanting Elizabeth Bishop's lines with a cynicism that isn't apparent in the text.Why four stars? Five is reserved for a masterpiece, something that is not easily bestowed. For one it has to stand the test of time, and regardless of the generous mindproduct above, its unclear whether Starters Alternators has the staying power of say, Guided by Voices' Bee Thousand or Sonic Youth's most genuine daydreams. But hell, the first three spins alone is well worth the price of admission, whether or not it buys Steve Albini another muse to cry on."