Exposé Online banner

Thinking Plague — In This Life
(Cuneiform Rune 407, 1989/2015, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-02-15

In This Life Cover art

Here in the West Wing of Exposé Headquarters (AKA my house), Thinking Plague occupies a place of honor as the preeminent American avant-prog band, their reputation tainted only slightly by the long gaps between their albums. Going by their past release schedule, we can expect a new album sometime between next week and 2020. In the meantime, Cuneiform gives us the reissue of their ground-breaking 1989 album In This Life, which cemented their reputation upon its release. This also completes their catalog on Cuneiform, since it was originally put out by ReR. For fans of RIO or avant-rock, describing this music is probably redundant, but for newcomers it might be worth noting that for creative electric music almost totally divorced from the tradition of rock – meaning there’s no relation to the blues – Thinking Plague is one of the major pillars. In This Life is overflowing with ideas: new ways to approach how bass, drum kit, and electric guitar can interact; unconventional and unpredictable melodies with artistic lyrics unbound by conventions of verses and choruses; production methods that go far beyond just capturing performances but don’t sound artificial or arbitrary; and ridiculous musical complexity that never sounds like it’s there for its own sake, but in service of an artistic vision. I don’t have a copy of the original CD to compare the sound, but I can definitely say that this is beautiful. A sure bet is that unless you’re a die-hard symphonic prog fan who doesn’t care for angular, twisty music (in which case you probably stopped reading quite a ways back), this needs to be in your collection if it isn’t already. (It’s worth noting that the original ReR CD included two tracks, “Moonsongs” and “Possessed,” which are not on this release. Those were taken from previous recordings, and are now available on Early Plague Years.)


Filed under: Reissues, 2015 releases, 1989 recordings

Related artist(s): Fred Frith, Thinking Plague, Bob Drake, Susanne Lewis

Latest news

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
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 and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Paga Group - Gnosis – Paga today is: Bernard Paganotti, former monster-zeuhl bassist with Magma and Weidorje, Klaus Blasquiz, former Magma lead vocalist on all their best albums, Bertrand Lajudie on keyboards, and new...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues