Suddenly, the Ex have a new album out! 27 Passports finds these Dutch anarchists plowing ahead with a sound that fuses jagged postpunk din to the circular rhythms of various African styles. The giddy rush of “The Heart Conductor” is a stunning thing to behold for newcomers and long-time fans alike.
As they approach the band’s 40th anniversary, the musicians in the Ex seem refreshingly unbothered by things like what a new album should sound like, or when it might be released. Rather, they live, they travel, they observe, they support their friends (if you’ve enjoyed the Congolese band Konono Nº 1, you might thank the Ex for that), they engage the art and politics that surround them… and, eventually, a new album comes out. On 27 Passports, the Ex responds to the crises and promises of our millennial planet with anger, tears, critique, and joy. “Silent Waste,” which draws inspiration from an interview with the Afro-Surinamese Dutch anthropologist Gloria Wekker, presents a dismal picture of cosmopolitan civility crumbling before human violence, and yet the irresistible, exhilarating chops of drummer Katherina Bornefeld speak to the joy that can be found from solidarity in struggle.
To those who follow these things: I don’t imagine the Ex are worried about getting a “best album of 2018” nod with 27 Passports, but I’m calling it anyway.
27 Passports is available on Ex Records.