More than 25 years after forming as a group of graffiti-spraying political dissidents, the Ex remains the Netherlands' most formidable punk export. Singles. Period. rounds up the stash of 7-inches the group released between 1980 and 1990, planting a huge chunk of its most sought-after vinyl on CD for the first time. The group's growth from a primitive band of proletariat hooligans into a biting and mechanical art monster is encapsulated in this collection.
Filtering the group's anarcho leanings through vocalist G.W. Sok's cockney slur has long pigeonholed the Ex as a Dutch counterpart to like-minded British group Crass. The comparison isn't unwarranted, but over time the Ex sidestepped the grotesqueries of punk in the Reagan/Thatcher era in favor of a more melodic approach.
The kling-klang percussions of "Weapons for El Salvador" place the group on par with industrial acts like Einstürzende Neubauten. Stark, machinelike rhythms and a much more poetically evocative grind herds the music. But "Trash" rumbles with concise, staccato clatter that lurches with too much human emotion to be called industrial music.
As this transformation from grubby guerrilla street hoodlums to powerful artists takes hold, a valuable cultural relevance is revealed. This music is chisels, drills, hammers and dump trucks — everything needed to tear down the old world order.