Boomkat Product Review:
Class, subversive art-rock-in-dub-noise from the hugely influential pioneers in their critical early phase, released months after their legendary debut LP in 1978, and dismantling all manner of templates.
With their stake in the ground, ‘The Modern Dance’, plus a handful of singles, under their belt by early 1978, David Thomas and co’s Pere Ubu continued to push the boundaries of angular, dissonant rock with ‘Dub Housing’ by the back end of ’78. While there are no shortage of its reissues in 2nd-hand circulation, this one has been transferred by Paul Hamann at Suma from original 2-track analogue mix tapes to digital “at the highest possible resolution” - which is at least four times the resolution of the OG - with re-master by Brian Pyle, to grant the most lucid window on Pere Ubu at a nascent peak of their powers.
Found on the tautest line between ludicrous and vitally enlightening, ‘Dub Housing’ made no concessions on Pere Ubu’s sound after they ripped up the rulebook with ‘The Modern Dance’. Thomas’ vocals oscillate between feral punk yelp and theatrical finesse and carried by a band who’d clearly gobbled up glam rock, free jazz, and early reggae, and infused it with art school leanings, droll Mid-western Amercian humour and their industrial heritage to create its wickedly tight but janky backdrops. In particular it benefits from the wild, textural synth chops of Allen Ravenstine, who matches Thomas’ freeform, off-key tone with a spectrum of atonalities and surprises, helmed by gloopy reggae baselines and spangled, detuned guitars.
‘Dub Housing’ remains a marvel ready for gawking and partying by successive generations, now sounding more lysergic than ever, all the better for dismantling egos and perceptions of what a band can do and where they can go.