xex were an all-synthesizer band from South River, New Jersey who recorded their debut album group:xex in 1980. Formed when a trio of high school misfits with funny names (Waw Pierogi, Thumbalina Gugielmo and Alex Zander) teamed up with some friends from Rutgers College. Performed entirely on then-state-of-the-art Arps, synths and electronic drums – no guitars anywhere – group: xex aims for the future, but comes across now like a time capsule from the deepest, darkest Reagan years. Each song burrows its way into your head with repetitive, undeniably catchy synth lines and vocal chants. “SNGA” (“Soviet Nerve Gas Attack”), “Cops” and “Delta Five” are doomy evocations of Cold War tension not far removed from very early Devo. But they were also capable of being quirky and whimsical. On “Fashion Hurts,” “Svetlana” and “St. Vitus Dance,” Waw and Thumbalina come across like a primitive B-52s, replacing the dance/party vibe with resignation and cynical humor. group: xex doesn’t sound like it’s from New Jersey. It barely sounds like it’s from Earth. However, there’s a certain residual murkiness that subliminally evokes the Central Jersey working-class suburbs.
group: xex was all but forgotten until 1998, when radio DJ Tom Smith discovered it in the WFMU music library and tracked down the band members, which lead to a CD reissue in 2004 on Smack Shire Records.