Pere Ubu’s David Thomas seems more locked into the future than ever | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Pere Ubu’s David Thomas seems more locked into the future than ever 

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click to enlarge Pere Ubu

Pere Ubu


It’s no longer particularly remarkable when a rock band continues to soldier on more than four decades after it started, but it’s another matter when a group continues to produce strong new music rather than exploit nostalgia. David Thomas is the only member left from the original lineup of Pere Ubu, but despite the stunning cast of musicians that have played in the band over the years, including synthesizer master Allen Ravenstine and guitarist Jim Jones, among others, it would be hard to dispute that it’s always been his outfit—no element has defined the band’s music more than his slightly unhinged yawp. The recent Drive, He Said 1994-2002 (Fire), the third in a series of box sets, continues a significant trawl through Pere Ubu’s voluminous archives, but I’m more excited by the band’s brand-new album, 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo (Cherry Red). The record features the group’s trademark squelch of analog synthesizers and driving rhythms, probing, astringent clarinet lines, and a collision of lacerating licks, atmospheric washes, and psychedelic leads produced by its current three-guitar lineup of Keith Moliné, Gary Siperko, and Kristof Hahn. The music carves out a bountiful, deeply varied space for Thomas’s singing, which is sometimes hectoring, sometimes tender, but never half-assed—he sounds as driven and engaged as he has at any point in his storied career. Whether embracing furious postpunk energy on “Monkey Business” or spookily exploring “Prison of the Senses,” 20 Years shows there’s nothing remotely retrograde about the current Pere Ubu.   v

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