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  • Carl Z.
    The Ex: 27 years of Dutch art-punk BY JUSTIN HOPPER A committed, open relationship: The Ex
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2006
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      <http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A20305>

      The Ex: 27 years of Dutch art-punk

      BY JUSTIN HOPPER

      A committed, open relationship: The Ex

      For a glimpse of the future of Ex-like music, be sure not to miss the
      opening set by Barcelonan DJ and producer DJ/Rupture, who mashes up
      and haywires African, Jamaican, Moroccan and Philadelphian musics
      (amongst a myriad of other sources). The result sounds like no one
      else on earth. "He's my favorite DJ," says The Ex's Andy Moor. "His
      musical approach, as a DJ, is fantastic."

      It would be sacrilege to compare the four members of Dutch art-punk
      band The Ex to angels. To call these musical multi-disciplinarians,
      raised in the squats of Amsterdam and fed on punk's carnality and
      anarchist agitprop, anything but earthly and heretical seems an
      affront to both sides of the cloth. But, as Ex guitarist Andy Moor
      prepares for the American premiere of Wings of Desire -- a stage
      production of Wim Wenders' film, for which Moor composed the music --
      the angelic nature of Ex-dom becomes apparent.

      "If you join The Ex, you have to dedicate your life to it," says Moor,
      by phone from Boston. "I don't want to sound like it's joining some
      kind of religious cult or something, but I know that I've sacrificed a
      lot of things I'd like to do in my life [to be in this band]. But I
      don't regret that, not at all -- I'm very, very lucky." Like Wenders'
      angels, The Ex inhabits its own world, observing, rubbing shoulders,
      and even conversing with the rest of the music and art world, but
      always with the knowledge that their own realm will call them back.

      Sixteen years ago, when Moor left his own band (Scotland's much-missed
      Dog Faced Hermans), The Ex he joined was already a decade-old
      institution. Launched in the halcyon days of punk, The Ex arose from
      the same milieu as 'cross-the-channel comrades Gang of Four and the
      Mekons, linking together punk's attitude with fierce political ideals
      and ears open to music from any source.

      That openness, over the length of the band's survival, has made The
      Ex's penchant for collaboration and musical diversity legendary. From
      the band's early work with mates such as Chumbawamba and the Mekons,
      in the 1980s they moved towards anarchic jazz, noise and ethnic music,
      spawning collaborations with everyone from Sonic Youth to bands of
      Iraqi Kurds and tours that took them past the Iron Curtain.

      The past year has seen The Ex put out two releases, one a CD
      compilation of the band's first decade of singles, many of which sound
      almost like regular punk rock; the other a collaboration with
      Ethiopian saxophonist Gétatchèw Mékurya and guests. (The Ex will tour
      Ethiopia in January, a country they've visited frequently, as
      Mékurya's backing band.) To Moor, this breadth of musical movement
      shows a common thread.

      "The connection is the energy and the commitment to the music you're
      making," says Moor. "Believing in the music you're making, not trying
      to impress, but celebrating the music you're playing at that time.
      Whether it's punk, or African or Hungarian music, there's no
      difference in the approach: not emulating, and not striving for
      virtuosity, but finding our own voice. In that sense, The Ex is the
      same in 1979 or 2006."

      One long-term collaboration The Ex has been involved with has recently
      drawn to a close. Rozemarie, the upright-bassist who has anchored the
      band's bottom-end since 2003, has departed. Rather than seek out a new
      bassist with both the appropriate musical abilities and the
      above-and-beyond level of commitment necessary, The Ex has reverted to
      a four-piece, with baritone guitars replacing the low-end. Despite the
      steady stream of side projects, according to Moor, maintaining The Ex
      as a noisy, thunderously powerful and essential band is still the most
      important thing, 27 years on.

      "We [each] do all these side projects, and The Ex does side gigs,"
      says Moor, "but we always want to come back to our core. That's the
      monitor, the reference point. And we have to make sure that that core
      is still strong, that we're not doing these other things to
      compensate. But so far it is: When we play, just as a four-piece,
      that's still my favorite combination."



      The Ex with DJ/Rupture, Allies and Xanopticon. 8 p.m. Sat., Dec. 9.
      Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. $12 ($15 at the door).
      All ages. 412-361-2262 or www.garfieldartworks.com
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