The Ex


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Released in 1995, this double-CD set is the culmination of a series of albums that saw the longstanding Dutch punk institution head in a stridently avant-garde direction, beginning with the Joggers and Smoggers album and explored extensively with cellist Tom Cora -- from the punchy chaotic punk rock of the band's '80s releases to total free improvisation. Collected here are collaborations with avant-garde jazz musicians such as the famed Dutch percussionist Han Bennink (whose work in improvisation began with Eric Dolphy no less), the late master of cello and longtime Ex collaborator Tom Cora, and saxophonist Ab Baars, to name a few. The collection covers a lot of ground, from noisy vignettes in the vein of Fred Frith and Chris Cutler's workouts to subdued passages that recall even atonal avant-garde classical works; AMM and Derek Bailey also spring to mind. Instant is not all free-form, however -- in fact, the forms are held together by vague folk themes and the band's classic angular Captain Beefheart-like arrangements. A two-CD set is certainly substantial in covering the band's multifaceted work, and with a group this unique and with so many compelling approaches that mix folk, punk, free jazz, and ethnic forms in such a singular fashion, there are few other recordings of this nature around.

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