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 134

Morton Feldman: Annihilated Angel

July 2011


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).

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.


Xenakis Symposium Extras

March 2011


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.

Essay from Issue 145

A-Z Of Electro

March 2011


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).

Essay from Issue 168

The Primer: Field Recordings

June 2008


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).

Essay from Issue 221

John Coltrane: Divine Wind

January 2008

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).

Essay from Issue 215

Cabaret Voltaire: Decoding Society

May 2007


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).

Essay from Issue 137

Frank Zappa: Don't do that on stage anymore

May 2007


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).

Essay from Issue 142

Worlds Collide: The Global Electronic Network

May 2007

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).

Essay from Issue 135

In Praise Of Stupidity

May 2007


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).

Essay from Issue 156

John Zorn Primer

May 2007


Simon Hopkins grapples with the genre-busting output of John Zorn. This article originally appeared in The Wire 156 (February 1997).