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).
Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner hails the new community spirit of social networking sites that encourage direct communications between artists and listeners.
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.
Composer Morton Feldman embodied the notion of the enigmatic artist – glittering, distant and elusive. Now, eight years after his death, his still, atmospheric music is gaining a whole new audience. Story by Edward Fox. This article originally appeared in The Wire 134 (April 1995).
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.
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.
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).
Responding to Kenneth Goldsmith’s epiphany on filesharing in The Wire 327, Henry Cow founder and ReR label boss Chris Cutler counts the cost of free music to those who make and distribute it
This article originally appeared in The Wire 11 (January 1995).
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.
Early works, the emergence of the Lydian Theory, the Workshop and associated recordings discussed by Max Harrison. This article first appeared in The Wire 3 (Spring 1983).
The output of George Russell's Sextet, discussed by Max Harrison. This article first appeared in The Wire 4 (Summer 1983).
A three-day conference, sponsored by The Wire and organised by the Centre for Contemporary Music Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London on the Greek composer coinciding with the tenth anniversary of his death. Scholars, researchers and musicians will present papers and participate in panels, alongside a programme of concerts and workshops. London Southbank Centre, 1–3 April.
In its original incarnation, Electro was black science fiction teleported to the dancefloors of New York, Miami and LA; a super-stoopid fusion of video games, techno-pop, graffiti art, silver space suits and cyborg funk. Now that Electro is back, David Toop provides a thumbnail guide to the music that posed the eternal question: "Watupski, bug byte?" This article originally appeared in The Wire 145 (March 1996).
Read an extended version of Will Montgomery's Cross Platform article on Japanese sound artist Toshiya Tsunoda, master of the art of field recording.
An occasional series in which we offer a beginner’s guide to the must-have recordings of some of our favourite musicians (and music). This month, Richard Henderson enters the preternatural realm of field recordings. This article originally appeared in The Wire 168 (February 1998).
John Coltrane died of liver cancer 35 years ago this month, burned out by the increasing intensity of his musical quest. In this personal memoir of the final years of Coltrane’s career, Howard Mandel recalls the incomprehensible effect of Coltrane’s later period music as he plunged into a creative kamikaze strike as self-destructive as it was hallowed, fuelled by hallucinogenics, mystic fervour and a belief in music’s power to unite the human race. This article was originally published in The Wire 221 (July 2002).
In 1982, Cabaret Voltaire began to mutate from the hardcore Industrial noise of their early years into a new phase of electronic body music inspired by proto-sampling technology and a tradeoff with the emergent beats of Chicago House. Ken Hollings analyses Richard H Kirk and Stephen Mallinder's Virgin years. This article originally appeared in The Wire 215 (January 2002).
For some, Frank Zappa was a musical iconoclast, capsizing the barriers between high and low culture. For others, he was a reactionary force, vilifying anything that didn't fit his cynical worldview. Ian Penman sits down with Zappa's newly reissued back catalogue and takes sides. This article originally appeared in The Wire 137 (July 1995).
In 1995, Electronica has become a nanotechnology, refrying the atoms of other musics into strange new hybrids. In the process, a lattice of invisible, interconnected networks has emerged to link disparate but like-minded musicians, labels and festivals. Rob Young maps the co-ordinates of the new urban music. This article originally appeared in The Wire 142 (December 1995).
Sting and Bono are Sensible. The Butthole Surfers and Bootsy Collins are Stupid. John Adams and Glenn Branca are Stoopid. Biba Kopf explains the difference. This article originally appeared in The Wire 135 (May 1995).
Simon Hopkins grapples with the genre-busting output of John Zorn. This article originally appeared in The Wire 156 (February 1997).
Mark Sinker uncovers ideas in black music - about present identity and future possibility - that run counter to all the comfortable old stories. This article was originally published in The Wire 96 (February 1992).
The Incredibly Strange Music books are mondo archaeology for vinyl fetishists. They exhume a hidden world of plastic where exotic Easy Listening, modern primitives, suburban astronauts, Bavarian sex symbols and singing psychics co-exist in fabulous Living Stereo. David Toop provides a guide to the delights of incredibly strange records. This article originally appeared in The Wire 128 (October 1994).