The Ex and Brass Unbound – Enormous Door

There are two truly great things about this release: one is the spacey quality of the music. The other is its incredible patience. This is a powerful, slow moving beast, not looking to push you around.

http://www.theex.nl

A marvellous collaboration, including a refreshing take of some previous material, this LP is a sort of testament to the fact that these two acts have spent weeks if not months together on the road. And will do so again (at time of writing, May 2013, CE, they are off to France together). Maybe the magic of the live shows needed transcribing to record; maybe each act hears something that only the other can bring: who knows? In any case this magazine is glad they got this LP down on tape.

There are two truly great things about this release: one is the spacey quality of the music. The other is its incredible patience. This is a powerful, slow moving beast, not looking to push you around. This patience is surely borne from the trust each act has in the other: and as such it’s a very harmonious sonic concord. From The Ex we expect and get those choppy, tightly interlocking guitar passages, gritty, atonal runs propped up by the incredibly apposite drumming.  We also expect Arnold’s dry lyrics. Brass Unbound for their part unleashes a whole panoply of squeaks blurts and warm, strung out, drawled notes; stretching and pulling the tracks this way and that, or finding space to add a new horizon or a new richness to the basic melody.  

The tracks also have a more pronounced meditative or storytelling quality to them; things like We Are Made of Places and Every Sixth Wheel is Cracked are trippy, soft and considered, and despite the essential looseness of the sound it’s also easier to focus on the songs' messages this time around. Red Cow is a luscious jam, threatening to fall apart so loose does it feel; and Our Leaky Homes is plain comic, it feels like a loose jig more than anything.  Elsewhere the new take on Belomi Benna is tremendous; more cerebral, certainly softer and more tessellate in its execution and fucking bouncy as hell too, bobbing along like a buoy in choppy water, with the brass being the main propellant, the fizz in the bottle if you like. Best is definitely saved till last; Bicycle Illusion is really brilliant, slowly building up only to collapse in a cluttered heap of random notes and noises and Theme from Konono is a tough, committed work out that spans seven minutes of Earth time.

At first I was a bit underwhelmed, it sounded like a run through, but once you get lost in the record there’s no going back. The opener Last Famous Words is a good example, at first it sounds pretty unassuming, after a few plays it’s under your skin, itching away, begging for release.

Great record, but then, no real surprise.