Pere Ubu – 'Lady From Shanghai'
By James Manning
David Thomas, the corpulent mastermind behind these seasoned Ohio art-punks, calls his group’s grotesque noise ‘avant-garage’. It’s a half-joke which nonetheless tethers Pere Ubu’s raw stomp and clatter to their frustrating, bewildering, and – if you can tune in – refreshing experimental tendencies. On this LP, Ubu’s fifteenth, Thomas is as monomaniacally committed as ever to snatching discord from the jaws of melody – and vice versa.
So we get an album that begins with ‘Thanks’, a two-minute synthpop song gone only very slightly wrong, and ends with the painful, static-ridden crawl of ‘The Carpenter Sun’. Burbling, muttering and wailing over electronic hisses, clattering drums and guitars, Thomas is a disconcerting guide through this barren sonic wilderness – but follow in his footsteps and you’ll come out grinning.