Blurring the lines between western post-rock and jazz, and African folk and trance, the prolific Dutch band The Ex have teamed up with Brass Unbound on the instantly infectious new 8-song LP Enormous Door.
Evolving lineups and numerous collaborations over its 34-year history — including two brilliant records with Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria — continue to keep the Ex vibrant and relevant. The latest release weaves those influences with the sound the latest lineup established with the 2010 release Catch My Shoe.
Drummer Katherina Bornefeld lays the foundation for the twitchy interplay between Andy Moor (guitar, baritone guitar) and Terrie Hessels (guitar, baritone guitar), punctuated by the Telecaster and voice of Arnold de Boer.
On Enormous Door The Ex build a hypnotic base for the free improvisational jazz of Brass Unbound, featuring Mats Gustafsson (baritone sax), Ken Vandermark (tenor sax, baritone sax, clarinet), Wolter Wierbos (trombone) and Roy Paci (trumpet). Churning rhythms propel flowing melodies in a kaleidoscope of sound.
“Last Famous Words” opens the record with mechanical precision and horns moving in unison before breaking off into wonderous cacaphony. Kat sings the Ethiopian Gurage inspired “Belomi Benna (Say It With a Lemon).” Followed by the instrumental “Red Cow,” side 1 showcases how adept the band is at moving between cultural influences.
Known for a multicultural leftist worldview, The Ex show a cheekier side on side 2 with “We Are Made of Places,” a song that reads like a snarky travelogue. Enormous Door closes with “Theme from Konono No. 2” a reworking of the trance riff by the Congolese band Konono No. 1 previously recorded with different lyrics and arrangement on the 2004 recording Turn. Where the prior arrangement was pared down for a powerhouse quartet, the addition of rich horns builds to an explosively joyous crescendo.
With Enormous Door The Ex continue to ignore the borders of established genres with a release sure to please long-time fans as well as those unfamiliar with the band’s long, boundary-pushing history.