Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chinese Whispers: the Making of Pere Ubu's Lady From Shanghai; David Thomas, Ubuprojex, 2013

Upon completing Chinese Whispers, Disaster Amnesiac has the same feeling that one might have upon viewing the director's commentary feature of a movie one may have just viewed. The curtain has been pulled back, the reality of the product's production has been shown.
It turns out that most of my impressions of the Lady From Shanghai LP were way off the mark, at least as far as its actual production and performances are concerned.What I thought were insights were pretty much mistaken, wrong, misapprehensions and mis-hearings. Disaster Amnesiac took cold comfort, reading Thomas's thoughts on failure, as regards these mistaken impressions.
Thomas also touches upon essential influences for Pere Ubu (the Lessons in Mayhem section is particularly fascinating), important philosophical underpinnings of the band, drumming/drummers, poetry vs. lyrics, rules vs. breaking rules, along with incredibly detailed descriptions of all aspects of Shanghai.
It was tremendous fun to read this100 page long liner note for the excellent album. One can never really get enough of Thomas's no-nonsense insight, his unique take on the process of writing, recording, and engineering music. Chinese Whispers makes for a fine companion to the great new Ubu LP, along with being the most concise elucidation of David Thomas's one of a kind vision so far.

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