Reviews

The Ex Dignity of Labour LP reissue

A release of this nature—an artistic info-dump essentially—would overshadow many lesser bands’ music. There are scads of hardcore and crust records throughout the ’80s and ’90s where the information provided is important and relevant, but the music itself is a grab-bag of forgettable songs and stereotypical genre exercises. Alas, the EX are in a class by themselves, even back in 1983. Released concurrently with the excellent Tumult LP, all eight “Sucked Out Chucked Out” takes are dense with grinding machinery, as the band pushes its sound beyond agit-punk and into more experimental territory, employing accordions and tape loops. Originally released as a 7″ box set, Dignity of Labour was partially recorded in the remains of a Dutch paper factory that had stood since the 18th century, and even had played a role during the Netherlands’ battle against the Nazis. In the 1970s, the factory was purchased by a multinational corporation and began producing asbestos. In other words, a post-industrial death spiral, one which is detailed in the accompanying booklet. The EX soundtracks these events with rare prowess and raw ingenuity. As individual songs, these tracks aren’t as strong as the majority of the EX’s catalog, but taken together—as a material protest, as a piece of history, as an act of resistance—it is an impressive work.