Some bands are beyond the usual spectrum. The Ex I consider to be one of these unique bands, the expression ‘hors categorie’ was made up for them. They defy any categorisation (that lazy habit of the music industry) and keep on moving towards unknown territory. And it isn’t nostalgia working here, please no. Without a doubt, there is no band which I saw so many times, under such totally different circumstances like The Ex. The first LP I bought was Hands Up! You’re Free! from 1988, which still sounds very good. UK radio legend John Peel knew where to look for genuine sounds.
Later on, I fell in love with the double lp Joggers and Smoggers (1989), which is a podcast avant la lettre, an audio summer walk through Amsterdam, at the end of the eighties. With amazing sound attacks, ranging from inspired poet Dorpsoudste de Jong, via impro legends Ab Baars and Wolter Wierbos, to Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore, all adding to the unique atmosphere of that album.
In 1991 they released the gorgeous album Scrabbling at the lock, with the late NYC celloplayer Tom Cora in an outstanding performance. Hidegen fujnak a szelek from that album even became somewhat of a dancefloor hit – well, at least in the seedy alternative places I used to dance my gothic dance back in the day.
The very same year (to be precise: june 29th, 1991) The Ex lured me into the old Bimhuis (at Oude Schans), for the very first time actually. That night I was all nerves, travelling all the way from Nuenen, Brabant to attend the first collaboration The Ex did with improv jazz musicians like Han Bennink, Ab Baars and Wolter Wierbos. The VHS of this wonderful night captures the spirit of that night quite nice. It is no exaggeration to put it like this: thanks to The Ex I discovered both The Bimhuis and the splendor of improv music.
There are many more vivid memories: The Ex performing with contemporary dance maestro Wim Vandekeybus’ dance troupe in Nijmegen’s classy De Vereeniging. The Ex curating a spectacular night in the old WORM (in Delfshaven, before they moved to innacity Rotterdam), with Ethiopian giants like saxophoneplayer Getatchew Mekurya and singer Mohammed ‘Jimmy’ Mohammed. The Ex performing with Alex D’Electrique in a gigantic former wharf. The Ex with Mekurya & Guests in The Melkweg. Last year they again surprised me in OCCII with all new material, abstract and glorious, enriched with Congolese sounds.
Again, The Ex cherrypicked an excellent line up of kindred musical spirits for this sunday in Amsterdam. From 19:00 hrs on, a festival in the Paradiso. With a.o. King Ayisoba from Ghana, Han Bennink, Oscar Jan Hoogland, Gummbah, Brader Musiki & Kaja Draksler Octet. Around 70 artists in one night..
Main Hall: MC Tijdelijke Toon / DJ Meda
19:30 – Drumband Hallelujah Makkum feat. ZEA & Kosten Koper
20:00 – Vincenzo Castellana
20:30 – Kaja Draksler Octet
21:15 – Zewditu Yohannes, Endris Hassen & Misale Legesse
22:00 – Brader Musiki
22:45 – The Ex
00:00 – KING AYISOBA
Upstairs: MC / DJ Richard James Foster
20:00 – Anne-James Chaton & Andy Moor
20:40 – Katherina Bornefeld & George Hadow
20:55 – Lena Hessels
21:15 – Terrie Hessels & Ken Vandermark
21:45 – Gummbah & Leonard Bedaux Cinema
22:25 – Kristoffer Alberts & Han Bennink
23:40 – Massicot
21:00 – Oscar Jan Hoogland / Practical Music
21:45 – Diego Armando DJ
22:15 – H 0 W R A H
23:00 – Diego Armando DJ
00:15 – Bazooka
01:00 – DJ Meda