Sunday, November 2, 2014


After a duo of albums (THE MODERN DANCE, DUB HOUSING) that took garage noise and surrealism and turned them into a kind of strangled pop,  Ubu furthered their take on Cleveland's disintegration/alienation precept and headed straight for the door as they themselves fell apart.  NEW PICNIC TIME (1979) is less dense sounding than its predecessors, but equally effective in tracks like "Small Was Fast" and "All the Dogs Were Barking",  the latter featuring some belligerent EML 200 synth sounds (the RAYGUN SUITCASE indeed!!!).  The record has none of the rock elements found on the first two albums; Ubu's nearly listener-friendly racket here replaced by entropy, obsession, and a collapse of language to the max. "Goodbye" sums up everything that is disturbing about NEW PICNIC TIME:  repetition and dread,  Ravenstine's toxic suitcase leakage (check out Robert Aldrich's film KISS ME DEADLY for another dose of paranoia from a piece of luggage), and a lyric mumbled unto infinity,  or was that an unpleasant ending I heard? "The Voice of the Sand" is very much a duet between Ravenstine's  sounds of electricity and David Thomas' reading of a Vachel Lindsay poem. Very short and exceedingly desolate. The last track of the album is "Jehovah's Kingdom Come", later dubbed "Kingdom Come" and eventually called "Hand a Face a Feeling" after Thomas' infatuation with the Jehovah's Witnesses and end times came and went,  so to speak.  The lyrics embrace an  apocalypse that would eventually lead to the end of Ubu's best line-up,  a group that would leave a legacy that was nothing short of astonishing in its complex of emotions and meaning. There's no putting a finger on anything here. In other words,  Art. 

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