Exposé Online banner

Cursive — The Ugly Organ
(Saddle Creek LBJ-51, 2003, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2004-09-01

The Ugly Organ Cover artLast year many in the prog community embraced The Mars Volta and their infusion of prog ideas (and excesses) into alternative/indie American rock. Cursive is another band making the same kinds of moves, though with vastly different results. Like De-Loused in the Comatorium, The Ugly Organ runs its tracks together and comprises a concept, at least loosely, rather than a set of individual songs. But where De-Loused is slickly produced and deliberately obscure, Organ is less flashy and more viscerally intense, like John Lennon’s primal screaming grafted onto dissonant arty post-punk. Leader Tim Kasher often sings like a man possessed, and it’s a wonder he can avoid blowing out his vocal chords the way he screams. The music behind him is complex in subtle ways (though subtlety is an odd word to use with music that gets as loud as Cursive), relying on details of shading and arrangement rather than flurries of notes. Aside from the oblique and unruly songwriting, the full-time presence of a cello (in both melodic and rhythmic roles) helps set the band apart from other post-Nirvana purveyors of squalling guitar pop. The lyrics, in addition to conveying some raw emotions, rely on clever puns and literary allusions, actually acquiring depth when read in the booklet. Kasher obviously has some issues to work out, and we can feel lucky he chooses to do so in public with albums like this rather than in the privacy of a therapist’s office.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 30, 2003 releases

Related artist(s): Cursive

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

David Cross - Testing to Destruction – Cross was, of course, the longtime violinist with King Crimson Mk2; I mention this first because Testing for Destruction bears more in common with that edition of KC than probably either of his two...  (1995) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues