traumatic harmony
the pataphysical study of randomized sound
xex - group:xex

I’ve been trying to think of something intelligent to say about New Jersey’s xex for a while now, but whenever I try it always comes out as a silly aphorism or one-liner. Something about their demented, destroyed electro lends itself more to individual lines than coherent, well though paragraphs. This probably is a result of the lyrics, which are clipped and silly and don’t really need to be deconstructed to understood. When they use limericks to talk about a possible Soviet nerve gas attack, they are in fact talking in limericks about a possible Soviet nerve gas attack. There is probably some element of parody there, a kind of post-Perestroika, pre-Reagan black humor (this music was recorded in 1980 after all) that is making fun of the mere possibility, but I doubt it. The vocal stylings add to this, a combination of Devo’s choppy delivery and the kind of inside-out melodies and alternately male-female singing from early B-52s records. Don’t get me wrong, there is definite social commentary at play in here, as in “Fashion Hurts,” which any girl could probably relate to, and the dark “Cops” that is a pretty straightforward rethinking of 1984. “Cops” is also a good place to segue into talk of the actual music. What’s so incredible about this record is that it sounds much more attune with neue deutsche welle than anything going on on this side of the Atlantic. I mean, you could see this as a logical next step from Q: Are We Not Men or the Screamers, but the connection is definitely more tenuous than, say, DAF or Liaisons Dangereuses. I guess this could also be the fallout (or perhaps pre-history) of much of the New York downtown not-disco scene (I do hear connections between this and Madonna’s first recorded appearance with Otto Von Wernherr from around this same time) or perhaps some early Sugar Hill records (Afrika Bambaataa comes to mind). But this is all speculation. Regardless, the combination of drum machines and synthesizers is just right, with bouncy and unsettling lines that make you want to dance but also cower in fear of the impending nano-machine takeover. 
I love Xex! I haven't heard them since I had the vinyl album in 1982. Glad to see they have been discovered.
Another Central Jersey native here who first knew of xex in the early '80s. I actually saw them play, but never had the recordings 'til Smack Shire reissued them. I'd almost convinced myself that xex never existed, and that the concerts I "saw" were dreams.
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Location: Durham, NC

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Albums/Things of the Moment

Gal Costa - Gal
X - Los Angeles/Wild Gift
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
The Factums - The Sistrum
The Dark Knight
Jay Reatard - Matador 7"s
Sub Pop Singles Club III
Mississippi Records
Byard Lancaster

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lexicon devil
agony shorthand
keeping score at home
something I learned today
deadly tango
her jazz
strange reaction
god and a bottle in me
in case of mishaps
20 jazz funk greats
funky 16 corners
moon sash
mental archipelago
crud crud
just for a day
little hits
everything is fire

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all posts before december 2004 are old wprb playlists. I wish I could say I've been blogging that long, but that's simply not the truth.

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