Playing a hybrid of punk to advance their liberal socialist agenda (serving as the rough equivalent of a Dutch Crass), the Ex put out reams of records and propaganda during the '80s -- each released on a different Dutch label -- but in the '90s began to embrace industrial forms of percussion and improvisation more in line with Einst├╝rzende Neubauten and Test Dept. Formed in the late '70s, the group debuted at the turn of the decade with Disturbing Domestic Peace. The year 1983 was particularly busy; two proper albums were released (Tumult and Blueprints for a Blackout) plus the singles box Dignity of Labour and an EP, Gonna Rob the Spermbank.

Two more LPs appeared during the mid-'80s, after which the group formed their own Ex label in 1988 to release a compilation of their three Peel Sessions, Hands Up! You're Free. During 1990-1993, the Ex preoccupied themselves with projects: recordings with Dog Faced Hermans produced the cassette-only Treat, and a collaboration with noted avant-garde cellist Tom Cora resulted in 1991's Scrabbling at the Lock plus And the Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders two years later. The group returned in 1995 with two major releases -- a double CD of improvisational material called Instant, and the proper album Mudbird Shivers. Starters Alternators followed in 1998 and Spanish Revolution was issued two years later; they also completed their 20-member, big band project Ex Orkestra in 2000. Dizzy Spells, which the group recorded with Steve Albini, arrived the following spring. ~ John Bush, Rovi

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