Emerging out of Amsterdam's vibrant squat scene in 1979, The Ex – a name chosen for the ease and speed with which it could be spray-painted onto a wall – have for four decades been an entirely self-sustaining musical entity, charting a course through the global underground with a spirit of freedom and radical exploration.
Originally released in 1982, History Is What's Happening features one of the most harrowing title/cover art combinations in recent memory. What at first glance looks like a firing squad is, upon closer inspection, a concentration camp orchestra.
On their second album, The Ex advance into a distinctly more post-punk style: textural guitar shards and tumbling motorik drumming with Bas Masbeck's thunderous bass shouldering much of the melodic load. Railing against political duplicity and the illusory nature of "freedom" in an age of manufactured consent, G.W. Sok offers some of punk's most bracing and memorable agitprop lyrics. These twenty songs are a quick-moving and caustic trip, a DIY studio rendition of the band's explosive live set from this era.
History Is What's Happening remains an important signpost in the history of both Ex-evolution and the cataclysmic '80s. With their sophomore LP, the group would put Holland on the underground music map. Indeed, many now-lifelong fans around the world were just beginning to take notice and get down with the mighty Ex.