The Wire


Elijah & Skilliam release Grime 2015 compilation

Elijah and Skilliam have released a compilation of the best in grime for 2015. The pair, who have often been touted as changing the face of grime, founded the Butterz label in 2010, since when they’ve released the likes of Terror Danjah, Royal T, Swindle, Footsie and Flava D. Called Grime 2015, the Butterz compilation documents the recent resurgence in the music's popularity. “There's been more hype than ever around the artists, music and scene this year than we have ever seen,” remarks Elijah. “We wanted to put together something that serves as a good entry point to the vocal side of our music at this point in time.”

Grime 2015 features more than 40 MCs, including tracks from Skepta, Stormzy, Wiley, Kano, Big Narstie, JME, Giggs, D Double E, My Nu Leng and Mumdance. The Butterz label compilation is available here. Listen to a megamix below or stream the entire album via Spotify.

Elijah and Skilliam were subject to The Wire 365 Invisible Jukebox, tested by Joe Muggs.

Never Known Questions: Five Decades Of The Residents

Bob, Chuck and Randy of The Residents

A lot has changed in the world of The Residents since biographer Ian Shirley last visited them in 1996: removing their eyeball masks and appearing live as a power trio in 2010, for starters. Shirley was inspired to update his original biography when he heard about Don Hardy’s new documentary film about the group, The Theory of Obscurity.

“The entire book was researched and rewritten and I dug out some fantastic information especially from fresh interviews,” Shirley said. “Two of the best stories were how a drug dealer kept his cocaine stash in The Residents' Sycamore studio/residence without them knowing about it and the fact that when they were bored one day, The Residents went out and tried to make a porn film. Saying that, the book now takes The Residents history right up to date.”

Removing the eyeball masks, and some degree of anonymity, could be seen as the ultimate perversity for a group that prides itself on perverse storytelling and general weirdness, but it was more of a costume change than a grand reveal. “Randy, Chuck and Bob were actually just new disguises that allowed The Residents not only to refresh their mythology, but tour in a leaner manner as well as connecting musically and visually with a new generation. The fact that Randy looked and dressed like an old man complete with a grey bald wig was offset by the fact that Chuck and Bob looked like digital Rastas.”

Through the book, Shirley describes The Residents' early and theatrical adoption of technology from their earliest days, to their embrace of rudimentary websites and CD-ROMs in the 90s and their multimedia shows today. One of the greatest changes in technology since the previous edition of the book has been the explosion of social media, and the ability to find out almost any secrets online with the right application of Google-fu. Would it even be possible to create a project with The Residents' cult mystique now? “Damon Albarn tried with the Gorillaz who were supposed to be anonymous at the outset, but his record company got nervous and let the cat out of the bag,” says Shirley. “But saying that, the internet does allow the concept of obscurity and mystery to be weaved around artists and bands.” The glut of free musical content online is also a problem. “The modern internet is a visual and musical deluge where thousands of songs and pieces of art are being uploaded on a daily basis. There are thousands of bands and solo artists recording and giving away their music. Also, the major issue is the modern curse of the short attention span and access to everything that dilutes impact. If a friend tells you about a band you can be listening to them within minutes on YouTube or Soundcloud and never buy a CD, LP or even see the band live.

“Then again, music and art is about creativity and although it might be hard to create a new Residents, there will be other young bands that will generate great music and art that will attract fans. Also, Homer Flynn of The Cryptic Corporation told me that The Residents are still making music and playing live so people can still enjoy the old Residents before they find the Mark 2.0!”

Never Known Questions: Five Decades Of The Residents is published by Cherry Red Books.

Counterflows Festival announces first wave of acts for 2016

Zeena Parkins. Photo by Heike Liss

The organisers of Glasgow based festival Counterflows have announced the first wave of artists appearing at its 2016 event. This will be the fifth edition of the festival, which is co-curated by AC Projects and London's OTO Projects. Artists so far confirmed include Zeena Parkins, Cüneyt Sepetçi, Inga Copeland, Graham Lambkin, Astor, Sensational, Gaile Griciute & Antanas Dombrovskis, Mette Rasmussen, Pat Thomas, Billy Bao, Rian Treanor and Aby Vulliamy. More acts will be announced in January.

Counterflows takes place between 8–10 April at various venues across Glasgow. Early bird tickets are on sale now for £40.

Glasgow's Sound Thought festival calls for papers

Sound Thought, the annual postgraduate conference and festival programme put on by the Univerisity of Glasgow, is calling for submission of papers, compositions, performances and installations to be showcased at their 2016 edition. Called Dialogues, the festival explores the intersection of sound and music across art and is put on in collaboration with GLEAM (Glasgow Audiovisual and Electronic Media), LUX Scotland, The Pipe Factory, and The GNME (Glasgow New Music Expedition) Ensemble. Abstracts should be approximately 250 words plus a short bio. Deadline 20 December 2015.

Sound Thought will take place 30 March–1 April. More information can be found here.

Rammellzee exhibition in London

Gamma records are set to release Rammellzee's last album Cosmic Flush as a commemorative series of records and print which will be on display this December at London's Magda Gallery. The graffiti artist and producer passed away in 2010. He was the proprietor of the symbol and word based mythology Gothic Futurism. As he explained to Greg Tate in The Wire 242 “All my art and all my teachings are about Gothic Futurism. And the knowledge of how a letter aerodynamically changes into a tank. I tell people, phonetic value does not apply to any letter’s structure because the sound is made by the bone structure of the human species, which has nothing to do with the integer structure quality. The letter is an integer. Chinese letters are carbonetic, but ours are siliconic. Arabic symbols are disease – cultural chemical symbols. They cannot be armoured. They cannot be made Ikonoklast. They cannot be made into a vehicle in motion. Silicon based symbols can be moved forward and have no phonetic value. What they’re saying in Arabic equals the structure of the symbol. What we’re saying does not equal structure, but the difference in values between silicon and carbon.”

Produced eight years ago with producer Jonah Mocium, the previously unreleased record has been reinterpreted and remixed by artists and rappers including Futura, Doze Green, Ian Kuali'i, Delta, sheOne, Augustine Kofie, Poesia, Toxic, Dr Zulu, Will Barras, Divine Styler, Mr Len, Edan and Beans, with more to be announced. You can see all the paintings from the Cosmic Flush project and hear the album and remixes at the opening night on 10 December, 6pm at Magda Danysz Gallery London. Those wishing to attend must RSVP via Facebook.

New book explores the life and work of Bob Cobbing

Bob Cobbing in Stockholm, 1972. Photo by Charles Amirkhanian

The first ever book dedicated to the life and work of Bob Cobbing, one of the most protean figures of the UK postwar underground, has been published by Occasional Papers. Boooook is a collection of new essays edited by grandson William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper that spans his various activities as poet, performer and organiser, with contributions from Hugh Metcalfe, David Toop, Andrew Wilson, Will Holder and more, alongside a host of archival material.

“We wanted to highlight his position as a key player in some of the most important moments and movements of the British avant garde, for example the Destruction In Art Symposium in 1966 and the Anti-University, which was founded in 1968,” write Cooper and Cobbing. “This collection connects Bob to these movements in new ways – for instance, a significant amount of material provides a clear link from his approach as an organiser of film societies in North London in the 1950s to the formation of the London Filmmakers Co-op. Such a large part of Bob's work was about facilitating other people, setting things in motion rather than promoting himself.”

Cobbing, who died in 2002 at the age of 82, was an important figure in the 1960s London scene through his position as manager of countercultural bookshop Better Books. More than a mere book seller, it was a key node on the international art and poetry network – it hosted a reading by Allen Ginsberg in 1965 that led to the International Poetry Incarnation later the same year, although Cobbing’s place on a planned tour with the Beats was blocked by Gregory Corso, who objected to the UK poet’s work. “Andrew Wilson annotates an advertisement for Better Books in Poetmeat,” write the editors. “Wilson's annotations give an amazing sense of how important Better Books was for the production and distribution of material, and its international links.”

The book is a culmination of a year of events dedicated to Cobbing titled Bob Jubilé. Although his work as a sound poet remains influential – Cobbing’s recordings form part of Julian Cowley’s sound poetry Primer in The Wire 339 – it is, by its very nature, ephemeral. Bob Jubilé was an attempt to understand his work in the present day: “We’ve commissioned and presented exhibitions, performances and new works by Hugh Metcalfe, Benedict Drew, Holly Antrum and Rhodri Davies among others, as well as organising a symposium, and conversation with Kenneth Goldsmith. All of these projects started with conversations and time spent in the family collection with many different people: helping us to understand how we might channel Bob's energy, as well as the archive, into the book.”

Boooook explores the international context of Cobbing’s sound poetry – Sanne Krogh Groth sheds light on his collaborations with French colleagues including Henri Chopin, as well as his “text sound composition” recordings for the Stockholm label Fylkingen, with fellow poet Åke Hodel. But the editors argue that Cobbing’s work remains just as relevant in the here and now. “Bob is a very good example of someone whose primary motivation as an organiser is to respond to what is necessary and interesting within a given situation – using brilliant organisational skills to bring people together to produce amazing things. We can still learn a lot from that.

“Bob was an autodidact,” they conclude. ”He was formally trained as an accountant, but he had also been a teacher, signwriter and farm labourer before being internationally recognised on the avant garde scene in his forties. In an increasingly professionalised world, it's hard to imagine a career like that happening now – which is a great shame.”

Boooook is published by Occasional Papers

Watch video of the UK premiere of Earle Brown's Calder Piece

American composer Earle Brown, the creator of open form musical construction, collaborated with artist Alexander Calder on Calder Piece, in which four percussionists are conducted by Calder's sculpture, Chef D'Orchestre. Brown originally called his open form works mobile compositions, inspired by the moving sections of Calder's sculptures. The two met in 1953 and became friends.

The performance begins with the musicians placed equidistant from the mobile, and they are asked to imagine an image of the mobile superimposed over the score, and then perform the areas of the score that correspond to that reading of the mobile's position. The piece involves over 100 percussion instruments that the musicians dart around to play as they read the sculpture and respond to its changing position -- including the petals of the mobile itself.

The sculpture was completed in 1966, and Brown completed the score shortly thereafter, as a commission from the Paris Percussion Quartet. Calder Piece was first performed at the Théâtre de l'Atelier in Paris in 1967, and has been performed rarely over the following decades, in France and the US. This performance, on 10 November 2015 at Tate Modern, was the first time it has been performed in the UK.

The performance was part of the exhibition Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture at Tate Modern, which runs until 3 April 2016.

John Cale revisits Music For A New Society

Photo by David Reich

John Cale’s next album is a complete reworking of his 1982 masterpiece Music For A New Society. Called M:FANS, Cale’s new takes on his old society songs are made up from original samples and new audio. “During the making of M:FANS, I found myself loathing each and every character written about in those original recording sessions of Music For A New Society,” explains Cale. “Unearthing those tapes reopened those wounds. It was time to decimate the despair from 1981 and breathe new energy, rewrite the story.” However, the original, albeit remastered version of Music For A New Society will also be reissued, with three previously unreleased tracks added as a bonus. Both albums will be released on 22 January 2016 by Domino, available individually or as a package in vinyl, CD or download formats.

To coincide with the release, Cale will be performing at London’s Roundhouse on 3 February.

Watch the video for M:FANS’ “Close Watch”, featuring Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman and directed by Abby Portner.

Makino Takashi and Rei Hayama film screenings in London

Screen shot from Inaudible Footsteps (2014)

Close-Up and OtherFilms have curated a night of screenings by the founding members of Tokyo film collective [+], Makino Takashi and Rei Hayama. Promising a night of “hallucinatory distortions evoking chaos and patterns, nature and organic forms”, the programme includes Takashi's 2014 production Phantom Nebula – featuring a live soundtrack performed by Takashi himself – and three Hayama shorts, Inaudible Footsteps, Reportage! and Some Smallness Coming From Land (all made in 2014). A Q&A with both film makers will follow the screenings. Takashi has previously collaborated with musicians and artists like Jim O’Rourke, Colleen, Chris Corsano, Lawrence English and Floris Vanhoof. To read more about him, see Nick Cain’s feature in The Wire 362. Hayama’s soundtrack to her film Kodomo Ga Mushi No Shigai Wo Umeni Iku (translating as A Child Goes Burying Dead Insects) was released in 2013 by Ultra Eczema.
The films will be shown on 25 November at Close-Up Cinema, London. Tickets are limited to 40 persons. More information can be found here.

Crowdfunding campaign to publish book on noise in South East Asia

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched for the first book aiming to chart the spread of noise music across South East Asia. Called Not Your World Music: Noise In SE Asia, it will document noise, electroacoustic, industrial and experimental music and sound art in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries. Co-authored by musician and Syrphe label boss Cedrik ‘C-drík’ Fermont and Dimitri della Faille, of the Belgian label Disques Hushush, the book will be self-published and it’ll come with a CD. “In our experience,” they explain, “knowledge about art scenes in South East Asia is very often published by Western publishing houses and record labels. Books and CDs come with a very high price tag and are difficult to find outside Europe and North America. This global inequality in the access to knowledge and culture concerns us a lot. Choosing to self-publish the book will have the added perk of making it much cheaper. It will be sold at the lowest possible price on the internet and to some indie distributors and stores. And, because we firmly believe knowledge should be freely available to all, we have also decided to make the PDF version available as a free download.”
At the time of writing, the campaign has 13 days to go. Pledges start with a $2 button.