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Home And Garden
History And Geography
Exit Stencil Recordings

An interesting historical curio, this one. Home And Garden was formed out of the ugly break-up of the legendary Pere Ubu in 1982 by bassist Tony Maimone and drummer Scott Krause. Teaming up with guitarist / keyboardist (and local Cleveland legend) Jim Jones and singer (or, more accurately, reciter) Jeff Morrison, they released some challenging music that references Ubu but takes off on a tangent from there.

This CD re-release combines the original History and Geography album with almost an album's worth of outtakes, plus a remastered version of the subsequent How I Spent My Vacation EP. There are lots of bleepy keyboards and odd time signatures, topped off with the abstract poetry of Morrison - who, incidentally, sounds like a dead ringer for David Byrne throughout. It's an intriguing but frequently difficult listen - kinda what you'd expect once the Ubu guys learned to play their instruments a bit better.

The multi-part Marco Polo suite is typical of the album; it's inventive and atmospheric, especially "The City of Kin-Sai". "Big Winter", "Bells of Ever and Never" are basically poems recited over bubbling bass from Maimone and some quirky keys. "From the Life of King John" picks the pace back up; it's much more of a straight ahead rock song with some clanging electric guitar - and my favourite piece here. Unfortunately, for every high point like this, there are multiple lows such as "Para Uds", a somewhat embarrassing attempt at Spanish with accompanying jungle noises, or "Jazz". The latter is pretty much the jazz-hata's definition of same - 4 people playing a different tune at the same time, and well-nigh unlistenable.

The How I Spent My Vacation tunes continue the trajectory set by History and Geography, but are ultimately a testament to why the band didn't continue. The title track is a wordless tone poem, while "Please Fix My Horn" benefits from a little rhythm plus some wordless shouting, but is still ultimately a bit tedious. "Where We Left Off" strikes a pleasing close; it's a nice, floaty electric guitar piece, reminiscent of Durutti Column.

Possibly realizing what they had lost, Krause and Maimone went back to the reformed Pere Ubu in 1988 together with Jones. This CD suggests that they made the right decision, but is still an interesting document for fans of Pere Ubu or the Cleveland art-rock scene in general.

-Gareth Bowles

Track list:
1. Marco Polo: The Voyage
2. Marco Polo: The City of Kin-Sai
3. Holiday
4. Monkey Town
5. Big Winter
6. King Penguin
7. Bells of Ever and Never
8. From the Life of King John

History and Geography Session Tracks:
9. Birthday
10. Marco Polo: The Desert
11. Geography
12. Para Uds
13. Prairie Sailors
14. Jazz

How I Spent My Vacation EP:
15. Does This Belong to You ?
16. How I Spent My Vacation
17. (please) Fix My Horn (my brakes don't work)
18. Where We Left Off

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