The Wire online 2014 roundup

The internet (detail)

This year, The Wire's online humunculus was more active than ever before – here's a roundup of all that which requires an attention surplus; the cream of the long form from 2014.

We published columns on sonification; the effect of archive fever on the current musical landscape; the all you can eat buffet of nothing; the survival of the epic, and Deutsche Grammophon’s 1970s forays into free jazz. Chinese noise musician Yan Jun asked which hell we would prefer, and Stewart Home talked about Northern Soul and his gym obsession, while Derek Walmsley tuned in to the FM radio spectrum, now revitalised by a swathe of community stations.

Long form features on The Wire covered the natural world and the unnatural realm. Monitoring the changing song of the humpback whale, David Rothenberg contended that whale song of the 1960s is different (and to some minds better) than the whale song of today. Kasper Opstrup communed with the history of psychic music making, from Burroughs through to contemporary psychic jam sessions by the likes of Matmos, Jennifer Walshe and Rashad Becker. We watched lips twitch on the history of ventriloquism, and looked at the peculiar science of casino acoustics. The entire archive is available to read here.

We added some rare fish to the ever expanding sea of online audio, publishing tracks found while crate digging in Kuala Lumpur, a collection of live recordings made at Copenhagen's underground venue Mayhem and a recreation of one of the earliest known compositions for an electric instrument. We hosted not one but two selections of work by the tape collagist and visual artist Adam Bohman, Argentine guitarist Alan Courtis put together his own Wirecast, Selvhenter and the Eget Værelse cohort put together a selection of their sounds. There was a bumper crop of David Rosenboom compositions, Justin Broadrick tracks; plus more by Torturing Nurse, Lee Gamble, Maya Dunietz, Stefan Jaworzyn and many others, all of it archived here. Whether you're looking to catch up on the previous year's new releases, or forward into the new year, our weekly radio shows from Resonance FM and NTS are archived in full here.

Galleries covered John Fahey’s paintings and the early days of the Berlin squat scene, plus futuristic flyers from Mexico City, sound system culture in Huddersfield, the 1980s no wave scene, and much more. In moving image, we posted film excerpts throughout the year, including an excerpt from Matthew Smith's documentary about the Los Angeles beat scene, a documentary on Martin Bisi’s BC Studio, plus videos of performances by Maria Chavez, Richard Skelton with the Elysian Quartet, Jandek, and a rough edit of a forthcoming documentary on improv powerhouse Borbetomagus.

Normal operations resume from 5 January, but in the meantime, this should be enough to keep you busy.

Felix Kubin compiles West German home tape recordings for Finders Keepers

Felix Kubin has put together a collection of rare and unheard West German home tape recordings from the 1980s. The compilation, titled Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik, documents the early work of musicians and artists such as Holger Hiller and Der Plan’s Pyrolator, Liaisons Dangereuses’ founder members Chrislo Haas and Beate Bartel’s CHBB duo, and some one hit wonders from a rural tape label called Pissing Cow Tapes.

Kubin discovered much of the music via the radio, which he and his brother would switch on as soon as they got home from school. In the Kubin household, he recalls, there’d be a different station playing in every room. This was a time, he adds, when people played "everything that isn’t nailed or riveted down" - baking trays, cartons, room lamps, toys, wooden flutes, whistles, cans, trays, record players, televisions, a doorbell, a telephone.

The compilation is released as a double LP and CD by the Finders Keepers offshoot label Cache Cache. A full tracklisting is available here

Matana Roberts holding public meeting this Friday

Photo: Brett Walker

Matana Roberts is holding a public meeting about the American grand jury verdict on the death of Eric Garner. Roberts aims to begin an open dialogue with artists and musicians in New York around problems in US policing and how it relates to the arts community.

The meeting, titled This Land Is, will take place on Friday 19 December at 7pm at New York’s Issue Project Room, and is free.

Ducktails and Skaters members curate new festival in LA

Spencer Clark

Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and Skaters’ Spencer Clark are curating a new festival in LA. International Mystery takes place on 25 January 2015 and features musicians from Mondanile’s label New Images as well as a number of artists visiting from Europe including Belgians Floris Vanhoof, Orphan Fairytale and Dolphins Into The Future, Italian Simone Trabucchi aka Dracula Lewis and Tomutonttu, from Tampere, Finland.

Mondanile met many of the artists on the bill while touring with Ducktails between 2008 and 2012. “I've always wanted to have a festival with european artists that never get the chance to play in America,” he says.

The festival takes place at Jewel's Catch One, in the mid city section of Los Angeles. There will be two stages and Mondanile and Clark will share DJ duties, Mondanile spinning “a mixture of Italo, house, private press, mainstream pop, various stuff… Everyone will be dancing,” he promises.

A full line-up plus tickets are available here.

Kim Gordon Q&A in London and Manchester

Kim Gordon will be in the UK next year to mark the publication of her memoir Girl In A Band, which is due out via Faber on 24 February 2015. Gordon will be in conversation with Miranda Sawyer on 17 March at Cecil Sharp House in London, and talking to Dave Haslam on 18 March at the Martin Harris Centre For Music And Drama in Manchester. At both events, Gordon will also be signing copies of the book.

More details on the book via Faber. Tickets for London available here, and tickets for Manchester available here.

Members of Godspeed, Fugazi and Dirty Three soundtrack Jem Cohen film in London next year

Photo © Jem Cohen

Film maker Jem Cohen’s We Have Anchor will be performed at London's Barbican next year. The project, commissioned by EMPAC, is a “love letter” to Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island in Canada, involving projections collected over the last ten years combined with texts and a score written and performed by members of Fugazi, Dirty Three, Godspeed and others. Playing at the Barbican performance are Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto, Dirty Three's Jim White, Efrim Manuel Menuck and Sophie Trudeau from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Jessica Moss from Thee Silver Mt Zion, T Griffin from The Quavers and Mira Billotte of White Magic.

It was originally performed two years ago at EMPAC in upstate New York, and the London performance will take place on 31 March 2015. Watch a trailer below. More info is on the Barbican site.

UPDATE: We Have An Anchor will also be performed in Paris on 2 & 3 April, more details via Sonic Protest.

Yabby You box set incoming

Courtesy of the Estate Of Vivian Jackson

A new box set surveying the work of Yabby You, one of the most mystical figures in roots reggae, is set to be released next year. The producer and vocalist, whose real name was Vivian Jackson made his first recording "Conquering Lion" in the early 1970s. Informed by his idiosyncratic brand of Christian Rastafarianism, its rhythm, featuring Wailers bassist Aston 'Family Man' Barrett, made "Conquering Lion" one of the heaviest of all reggae tracks, while its deep chant of "Yabby Yabby You" gave Jackson with his producer name. He went on to work extensively with dub maestro King Tubby and deejays Big Youth, Dillinger and Trinity, and he continued producing into the 80s and 90s.

The box set, entitled Dread Prophecy: The Strange And Wonderful Story Of Yabby You, is set to be released by the US label Shanachie in February
2015. Of the 56 tracks spread across its three discs, 31 have reportedly never appeared on CD, and 12 are previously unreleased. These include tracks recorded and subsequently shelved in the late 70s. Alongside a disc of his best-known work, there's a second of production work featuring artists such as Michael Prophet, Patrick Andy and Trinity, and a third disc of rare recordings. Shanachie have enjoyed a long relationship with Yabby You and his family, releasing his Fleeing From The City album in 1991. Royalties will go to Jackson's estate. The booklet includes photographs donated by Jackson’s widow Jean, and the sleevenotes include a piece from reggae historian David Katz.

Janek Schafer building online portal of found sounds

Artist Janek Schafer is building an online portal of found sounds, which he wants to build into a large archive that will play a live collage of found sounds. So far contributions have been made by Chris Watson, Brian Eno, Phil Niblock, William Basinski, British Library Sound Archive and many others.

Schafer says the site was inspired by “the original digital radio station that simply played bird song, which has now gone. My desire is to present a live stream of calm, fabulous and curious ambient field recordings, which are randomly layered in pairs. Underscoring this will be a suite of subtle sonorities spun by me, sourced from stray space radio signals.”

Schafer has an open call out for audio, and is trying to collect a full 24 hours worth of material before the site's full launch in March. Anyone wishing to contribute can email Schafer via the site, which is under construction at foundsoundscape.com.

Flying Nun discography published

A full discography and overview of the New Zealand underground label Flying Nun has been published by Canadian imprint Assembly House. Needles & Plastic: A Flying Nun Discography covers the years 1981–88 and includes images of most releases. It covers an overview of the label’s beginnings, includes an illustrated discography, and traces the label’s impact on the scene at the time.

Needles & Plastic is by Matthew Goody and Sean Elliott, and is available here.

Borderline to broadcast The Wire's releases of the year

In what has become a seasonal tradition, tracks from each of The Wire’s 50 releases of the year, as featured in the new January issue, will be broadcast through December and January by Borderline: Musik Für Grenzgänger on Germany’s Freies Radio Kassel.

The shows will go out at 7pm over three consecutive Fridays on 19 and 26 December and 2 January, with each show being repeated at 11pm the next day. If you live in the Northesse region of Germany you can tune in on 105.8 FM; for everyone else, the shows are streamed live at borderline-extra.de.