Essential New Music: Pere Ubu’s “The Architecture Of Language 1979-1982”


You don’t hear the terms “dada,” “avant-garde” and “punk” combined as much as you used to, but back in the day, Cleveland’s ultra-arty renegade Pere Ubu made non-commercial music intriguing by upending the rules of the game. With David Thomas, an eccentric, oversized lead singer who warbled and bleated his obtuse poetics over a squall of trashy guitars, jittery rhythms and dark, synthesized soundscapes, Pere Ubu stood apart from other post-punk ensembles.

This collection captures three key LPs and assorted rarities, tracing the transition from original guitarist Tom Herman to Mayo Thompson, a deconstructionist psych-rebel veteran of Texas’ Red Krayola. Ultimately, the albums New Picnic Time, The Art Of Walking and Song Of The Bailing Man are less incendiary and far more listenable than they seemed at the time. Pere Ubu was changing rapidly, but this is shrewd stuff on which the band built its legend, so do your darn homework.

—Mitch Myers