There are plenty of reasons why the Ex has been characterized as a punk band. There’s the group’s roots in Amsterdam’s squatter’s scene, which provided shelter and opportunity to many a punk; its uncompromising independent ways of working (which are guided by never-coopted politics); like the Ramones, the band members went by first names; and the rawness of the band’s sound. But given the breadth of the Ex’s music, the label was inadequate even at the best of times. When the group needed a new drummer at the end of 1984, they did make it a priority to find another woman. But they turned down one who had developed her chops playing with the circus and another who was a hardcore punk. Instead they picked Katherina Bornefeld, whose idiosyncratic but utterly solid playing provided an ideal platform for trying anything they wanted to try, then and today.
3 Musketiere is the band that Kat played in before she moved to Amsterdam and joined the Ex three and a half decades ago. Her wide-open, nondoctrinaire approach to music is already on display on Abflug. The album revives the eight songs that comprised the trio’s one release, an edition-of-30 cassette recorded with borrowed gear in their practice space in Stuttgart, Germany. Kat drummed and sang, and her German-language vocals articulated punk-congruent, anti-establishment sentiments. But her drumming is more varied, already evidencing the array of colors and inclination to repeat long phrases instead of simply keep a beat that she brings to the Ex to this day.
The band’s lineup also pushes back against any sort of loud, fast rules. Not only did the trio comprise an electric bass and a violin, the violinist was Kat’s mom. The main reference point for their instrumental sound would be pre-C&W Mekons, but Kat’s clarion singing, which gives as much voice to exultation as defiance, already sounds like no one else’s.