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Pere Ubu: Carnival Of Souls

A ghoulish underscore from Cleveland’s cult veterans.

“The album is not about the movie,” says Pere Ubu founder David Thomas on their 18th release in 40 years. “[It’s] a complex sensual response to living in a world overrun by monkeys and strippers who tickle your ears, cajole you to join in... then become vindictive when you decline.”

Well, quite. But created as a live underscore for the B-movie horror classic, COS is a lot darker and more claustrophobic than Thomas’s press notes propose. If you’re familiar with Ubu’s trailblazing anti-rock, Golden Surf II and Bus Station will hit the spot. Darryl Boon’s plaintive clarinet threads through the whole work, with kindred weirdos Residents, Captain Beefheart and David Baker’s Mercury Rev conjured on tracks such as Dr Faustus.

In a cool twist, the COS-influenced Eraserhead seems to encroach on desert-rock romancer Irene. Brother Ray closes with a dogged Dust Bowl creepiness that only Tom Waits could outdo. If there’s a time and a place for everything, dinner parties and date nights are excluded from this ghoulish cine-sexual affair.

Jo Kendall

Embracing weird, wild and wonderful sounds, Prog's Associate Editor Jo's also a Classic Rock columnist, an avid tea-drinker and cupcake fancier.