The Ex

Tumult

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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.

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