The Ex on Touch and Go? While they do seem at first to be strange company (T & G don't exactly conjure images of anarcho-squatters and euro- improvisers), the union couldn't have been more successful. Perhaps the Ex, knowing their new album would be released by one of the more high profile "indie rock" labels, decided to strip themselves down to their punky roots. No matter what the circumstances, the Ex throw themselves into this new set of songs head first. It's less dada, more futurism. There are no guest musicians, and non-punk influences (free-jazz, world folk musics) have been fully incorporated to produce a tight, cohesive sound. In fact, they haven't sounded this focused since 1988's Aural Guerrilla. Much credit must go to Steve Albini, who once again displays great sympathy towards groups he works with. This is arguably the best the Ex have ever sounded on a recording. The guitars are scrape-y, piercing and LOUD, bass is round and booming, vocals and drums sit un-effected a bit below the guitar's roar, the way one would expect to hear them in a live context. The entire production has an amazingly naturalistic quality, which must be attributed to the room at Albini's studio, Electrical Audio. His collection of obscure, high-end mics are another element of this success, so much so that the band comically displays them in the CD booklet por- traits. Highly recommended. (Touch and Go, PO Box 25520, Chicago, IL, 60625)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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