The Wire

In Writing

Essay from Issue 76

Charles Mingus: Hit In The Soul

September 2012

After the extraordinary achievements of his early years, the great bassist/composer Charles Mingus faced crisis – and a nervous breakdown – in the mid-1960s. But his comeback in the 70s, though constrained by illness, led to a few late masterpieces. as Brian Priestley reports in the concluding part of our Mingus retrospective. This article was originally published in The Wire 76, June 1990.

Essay from Issue 339

Collateral Damage: Phil England

April 2012

Circulating music as resource-free downloads might reduce carbon footprints, but the fast turnover of the computers, MP3 players and mobile phones we play them on costs the Earth plenty, argues Phil England.


Collateral Damage: John Richards

March 2012

When John Richards of Dirty Electronics began manufacturing interactive sound devices such as a hand-held analogue synth, he tapped into a participatory social experiment in revitalising digitally numbed senses

Essay from Issue 337

Collateral Damage: Vicki Bennett

February 2012

In the early 2000s, increased bandwidth allowed recombinant artists to enter the gift economy. It’s a freedom we should defend at all costs, argues Vicki Bennett aka People Like Us


Collateral Damage: Terre Thaemlitz

January 2012

Don’t confuse online culture with digital culture, argues Terre Thaemlitz, whose latest project pushes the MP3 format to its absolute limits.


Collateral Damage: James Kirby

December 2011

Bulk giveaways of music online make it impossible for listeners to make any sense of an artist’s work, argues James Kirby

Essay from Issue 333

Collateral Damage: Marcus Boon

November 2011

The culture of copying is intrinsic to all music, argues Marcus Boon. So get over it – copyright buccaneers are roadtesting creative alternatives to obsolete capitalist models.

Essay from Issue 131

Global Communication + The Black Dog + Bedouin Ascent + Sähkö: New Complexity Techno

October 2011

The combination of digital technology and the easy accessibility of samplers and computers have irrevocably changed the way sound is produced and perceived. As electronic music moves further away from the conventions of the club culture that spawned it to become a profound means of expression in its own right, a new breed of musician is emerging to forge new directions in Ambient and Techno with the parallel sciences of multimedia and electronic networking. Here we profile four such acts: Global Communication, The Black Dog, Bedouin Ascent and the Sähkö collective. This article originally appeared in The Wire 131 (January 1995).

Essay from Issue 137

Scanner: Interference Patterns

September 2011

For seven days in May [1995], Liverpool reverberated to the signal of the UK's first experimental radio station. That media-styled 'telephone terrorist', Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner, tuned in. This article was originally published in The Wire 137 (July 1995).

Essay from Issue 169

Fela Kuti: Chronicle of A Life Foretold

September 2011

When Fela Anikulapo-Kuti died in August 1997, Nigeria lost one of its most controversial and inspirational cultural figures. Here, the Africa-based writer Lindsay Barrett maps the extraordinary trajectory of Fela's life, detailing the emergence of his patented brand of Afrobeat, his anarchic lifestyle, and the ongoing battles with the Nigerian authorities. This feature was originally published in The Wire 169 (March 1998).

Essay from Issue 331

Collateral Damage: Amanda Brown

August 2011

This month: alienated from her computer, baffled by download culture, Amanda Brown laments the rise of the faceless uploader and the attendant decline of the DIY underground.

Essay from Issue 330

Collateral Damage: Bob Ostertag

July 2011

A regular opinion column on the fallout from music’s shifting economy. This month: After committing ‘professional suicide’ by giving away his back catalogue online, Bob Ostertag wonders how the web is changing our understanding of music for good.

Essay from Issue 329

Collateral Damage: David Keenan

June 2011

Following Chris Cutler's response to Kenneth Goldsmith's filesharing Epiphany, David Keenan looks at the fallout from music's shifting economy, from the perspective of his webshop and record shop Volcanic Tongue.

Essay from Issue 108

Gil Scott-Heron: Pieces Of A Man

June 2011

Gil Scott-Heron, with and without his longtime partner Brian Jackson, has long refused to fit into anyone's market plan for a soul-jazz singer. Nathan West and Mark Sinker discuss his recorded legacy. This article originally appeared in The Wire 108 (February 1993).

Essay from Issue 103

David Toop: All Mix & No Master…?

April 2011

Does the new technology of mix 'n' splice mean the end of Popular Song as we know it? Or the start of a new open-ended dance afterlife? The death of the Original, or the birth of the infinite version? David Toop looks/locks into a brand new time lapse. This article originally appeared in The Wire 103 (September 1992). David Toop reflects on writing the essay below.