The Ex’s 2012 Ethio Rock N Roll/Sound Poetry Circus

Dutch DIY pioneers The Ex have been shaking it up for over 30 years  swinging freely and tightening the void between punk, free jazz, and musics of the world. Their collaborations have included everyone from downtown NYC types to interpretive dancers, Euro-jazz ensembles and free music fixtures, approaching all of their co-conspirators with an anarchic approach of pure horn-lock and fearlessness, showing readily that there’s a musical and cultural bridge between everything. Their hearts in the last decade in particular seem firmly at home in Africa and Ethiopia; frequent trips and concerts have served to both expand the band’s own musical canvas and shine a spotlight spotlight on the some modern-day vibrant cultural and musical happenings and reframing some historical figures who often are open to the Ex’s shared philosophies upon meeting them. Guitarist Terrie Hessel’s Terp label gave the West its first peak at the amazing sounds of the Congolese combo Konono No. 1, Eritrean singer Tsehaytu Beraki, the Ex’s killer collab with Ethiopiques’ sax giant Getatchew Mekuria (who came to the USA in 2008 with them) and others.

The band’s shows to this day are total roof-raising, stage-carpet ripping blowouts.

This January, the Ex returned for shows in Ethiopia joined by assorted cohorts like the Dutch band Zea and Pal Nilssen-Love, but they also brought down Dutch sound poet Jaap Blonk and French sound-poet Anne-James Chaton (who has recently collaborated on a series of 7″s with Ex guitarist Andy Moor). Here are artists most Westerners wouldnt have a chance to scope unless they were at a venue like Roulette, Issue Project Room, Cafe Oto, live at Ethiopian schools. And the video documents from this past month are amazing. (Brian Turner)

Here’s a clip of an earlier Ethio tour; concerts couldn’t be pre-scheduled, rather the band would apply for paperwork that day with the town’s authorities then announce the impromptu show for later that day. This clip with Han Bennink guesting on drums while Ex dummer Katherina Bornefeld takes the mic is especially killer:

And one more of the band with Getatchew Mekuria from last February: