The Wire


Mark Fisher 1968–2017

Writer, theorist and Wire contributor Mark Fisher died on 13 January

The writer, theorist and Wire contributor Mark Fisher died on 13 January. He was 48.

After a brief dalliance with making music in the early 1990s – a 12" Entropy In The UK was released by his group D-Generation – Mark entered the orbit of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, a para-academic wing of the Philosophy Department at Warwick University, in the middle part of the decade. The Ccru was conceived by Sadie Plant and Nick Land (it was never officially founded, nor has it ever officially dissolved) and after Plant’s departure, Mark became one of the primary driving forces of the group. Dance music, in particular drum 'n' bass, was crucial to the unit’s theorisation of the relationship between society and sound in the era of sample technology, and Mark wrote widely on dance music at this time, sometimes under pseudonyms such as Dr Mark De’Rozario and Maria De Rosario. In 1999, he helped produce a death garage track “Anticlimax (Inhumans Moreerotic Female Orgasm Analog Mix)”, released under the name Xxignal (a Ccru glossary still available online describes death garage as “Sonic subgenre characterized by (loud) Swarm-beats”). Mark began a long association and friendship at the Ccru with Steve Goodman aka Kode9, whose webzine Hyperdub was heavily inspired by Mark’s ideas, and later morphed into the successful record label.

After completing his PhD Flatline Constructs: Gothic Materialism And Cybernetic Theory-Fiction in 1999, he began working as a philosophy lecturer in Kent. In 2003, despondent at the pressures of further education, and kicking against the constrained intellectual structures of academia, he began his longrunning blog K-Punk. “Blogging seemed a more informal space… a way of tricking myself back into doing serious writing, I was able to con myself, thinking, ‘it doesn't matter, it's only a blog post, it's not an academic paper’,” Mark recalled in a 2010 interview with Rowan Wilson for the website Ready Steady Book.

K-Punk ranged widely across philosophy, culture and politics, taking in Doctor Who, The Fall, Metalheadz, Spinoza, HP Lovecraft and everything in between. It became a central hub of a prolific generation of music bloggers in the mid-2000s, and Mark co-founded the internet forum Dissensus with blogger and future Wire contributor Woebot aka Matthew Ingram in 2004. Mark was instrumental in coining the concept of hauntology – the term, borrowed from Jacques Derrida, alluded to a cluster of musicians then referencing or riffing on the past, from Ghost Box to Mordant Music to Ariel Pink, as well as what he saw as the general condition of wider music in the 21st century to look backwards. In 2005 he completed londonunderlondon, an audio essay inspired by JG Ballard, with Justin Barton.

Mark began contributing to The Wire in 2007, and the same year he completed his first cover feature: an interview with elusive Detroit techno collective Underground Resistance, whom he met in the Netherlands. He joined the magazine's staff as Acting Deputy Editor in 2008, and filed several major features around this time, including cover stories with Tricky, Mark Stewart and Ultra Red, as well as a rare in-person interview with the London producer Burial. Mark also contributed frequently to the magazine's own blog The Mire, including entries on minimal techno and satirical magazine Private Eye's column Pseud's Corner – a forum for naming and shaming intellectuals and their jargon. His inclusion in the latter was a source of particular pride: “If the section from the Mark Stewart feature that they selected is considered fair game,” he wrote, “then they might as well open up a permanent spot for me.” When his tenure as Acting Deputy Editor was over at The Wire, Mark forged a close alliance with Zero Books, acting as a commissioning editor; his own book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? was a word of mouth success in 2009. Since then, he has collaborated widely across spheres including art (alongside artist collective The Otolith Group, whose Kodwo Eshun was a longterm associate) and politics (he wrote the pamphlet Reclaim Modernity: Beyond Markets Beyond Machines with Jeremy Gilbert in 2014).

A second book Ghosts Of My Life: Writings On Depression, Hauntology And Lost Futures followed in 2014, and he wrote widely on the connections between politics, economics, class and mental health around that time. A new collection The Weird And The Eerie was published shortly before his death. He continued to contribute to The Wire throughout the 2010s, and participated on numerous panels and discussions on hauntology, dance music, listening and politics during his association with the magazine.

Mark Fisher, 11 July 1968–13 January 2017

Unearthing The Music: Creative Sound And Experimentation Under European Totalitarianism

New archival project focuses on Eastern European music during the communist era

OUT.RA, the association behind the Portuguese festival OUT.FEST, has started a new project called Unearthing The Music: Creative Sound And Experimentation Under European Totalitarianism. The project aims to develop an online resource for experimental and avant garde music made under communist regimes in Eastern Europe between 1957–89. This online archive will gather video, sound, images and personal accounts. It also plans a series of talks, lectures and screenings to be held in Lisbon, complete with supporting texts.

For more information, and to find out how you can get involved, visit their website.

Dimitri Hegemann's plans for new Detroit nightclub gets underway

The new development at Detroit’s Packard Plant will feature an onsite nightclub

Development of the old Packard Plant in Detroit, a project discussed by Berlin Tresor club founder Dimitri Hegemann in his Epiphanies column (The Wire 386), is now underway, Resident Advisor reports. Fernando Palazuelo aims to turn the former factory, a famous historical site of the old car manufacturing industry in the Midwest, into a $350 million renovation project that will contain housing, retail and art spaces. Hegemann has been involved in plans to include a new nightclub on the site. In his Epiphanies column, he declared, “This is my message to all the mayors of the world: give young people space and let them develop their projects! Don’t stop them with senseless rules and regulations such as a curfew. Brighten up the streets at night, keep the city busy and crime rates will decrease.”

Festival For Other Music returns this year

Second edition of the Stockholm festival will run from 9–11 February

The second edition of Festival For Other Music will take place in February. Held at Fylkingen, Reaktorhallen and Musikaliska in Stockholm, and curated by ex-Cafe Oto programmer John Chantler, the line-up features Mazen Kerbaj, Sarah Hennies, Ikue Mori & Steve Noble, Jeph Jerman & Tim Barnes, Angharad Davies & Tisha Mukarji, Áine O’Dwyer, SAWTOUT (Mazen Kerbaj/ Burkhard Beins/Michael Vorfeld), Tetsuya Umeda, Olivia Block and ONCEIM performing Eliane Radigue’s OCCAM OCEAN. There will also be an exhibition of Kerbaj’s drawings which he will open on 9 February with a solo performance.

Festival For Other Music runs from 9–11 February. Earlybird festival passes are now on sale for 400 sek. Standard price will be 500 sek. Individual concerts tickets cost 180/200 sek.

Norient documentary festival begins today

Musikfilm Festival starts in Bern today with Hot Sugar’s Cold World

The eighth Norient Musikfilm Festival launches in Bern today (12 January) with its evening showing of Hot Sugar’s Cold World. Adam Bhola Lough’s 2015 documentary, focusing on electronic musician Hot Sugar’s scurrilous beat encounters with the likes of Jim Jarmusch, opens a festival strand entitled Visions Of A New World: Realism And Romance – one of several themes examined over four nights of documentaries, films and music clips. The screenings span rap in Tunisia; prison reggae and dancehall in Kingston, Jamaica; Hispanic punk in Los Angeles, sexism in the context of favela funk; Chicago footwork; East European music clips, stoner rock in the California desert; plus the Sahel Sounds label’s African desert music explorations, and much more.

Also featuring are an audiovisual performance by Lithuania’s JG Biberkopf, as well as live music and DJ sets – all part of the Swiss based organisation Norient’s celebration of “sounds and noises from around the planet” that fall outside the curatorial gridlock restricting the perception of music worldwide. Happening over four nights at Bern’s Reitschule cinema, with extra events in Bern as well as nearby Lausanne and St Gallen, the festival runs parallel to Seismographic Sounds: Visions Of A New World, the exhibition Norient has been touring this past year on the back of its book of the same name, which is now running at Kornhausforum Bern.

The Musikfilm festival itself runs until 15 January, more information can be found at their website.

Long-running Sonic Acts festival will take place in February

The theme for this year's edition will be The Noise Of Being

Sonic Acts returns next month with The Noise Of Being as its theme. This edition of the festival, which began in 1994, will feature an exhibition, workshops, masterclasses, films, performances and club nights at various venues around Amsterdam.

“The Noise Of Being is about what it also means to be human, to be part of a world that is an ever changing network,” declares the fest. Artists confirmed so far include Aïsha Devi, BJ Nilsen & Karl Lemieux, Emptyset, Jana Winderen, JK Flesh, Kara-Lis Coverdale & MFO, Luke Fowler, Susan Schuppli and many more. The Wire’s Nina Power is one of many artists, writers and thinkers participating in the three day conference centred on the festival’s theme.

Sonic Acts runs from 23–26 February.

More acts announced for Safe As Milk festival

The first edition of the new North Wales festival opens in April

More acts have been announced for the new festival weekender Safe As Milk. Taking place in North Wales from 21–23 April, artists include Actress, Michael Rother, Anna Meredith, Ata Kak, Princess Nokia, Gaika, Carla dal Forno, Circle, Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, Moor Mother and Ulver. Those artists already announced include Shirley Collins, The Residents, This Is Not This Heat, Dopplereffekt, Hieroglyphic Being, Nurse With Wound, Grouper and others. More acts will be announced once they’re confirmed.

Founded by Graham Thrower of alt vinyl in partnership with Lee Etherington of Newcastle's Tusk festival, the pair announced the new weekender back in October 2016, promising “plenty of stuff going on” at the North Wales holiday camp Pontins.

Safe As Milk will take place at Pontins, Prestatyn, Wales. Early bird tickets have already sold out.

Title TK book published by Primary Information

Title TK features performance transcripts from the talking guitarists trio consisting of Cory Arcangel, Howie Chen and Alan Licht

A collection of performance transcripts from the guitar trio Title TK has been just published. The collection features members Cory Arcangel, Howie Chen and Alan Licht engaging in unscripted conversations about music, the music industry and popular culture, and is said to draw inspiration from David Antin’s improvised talk poems. The book includes ‘gigs’ from Lit Lounge, Audio Visual Arts, the Whitney Museum (with guest Danny Goldberg), Performa (a collaboration with Michael Smith), Oberlin College, POP Montreal festival, Dia Beacon, Carnegie Museum of Art, Roulette and Triple Canopy. The book is published by Primary Information.

Aki Onda directs Japanese festival TPAM

The international platform for contemporary performing arts will take place in February

Aki Onda has been appointed as one of the directors of the forthcoming edition of TPAM (The Performing Arts Meeting) festival in Yokohama. Established in 1995 as Tokyo Performing Arts Market, the international platform moved to neighbouring Yokohama in 2011. This year's event will feature the Vietnamese singer-songwriter Ngoc Đai, Senyawa, Jen Shyu, Marginal Consort, Nao Nishihara and the Yasuno Miyauchi ensemble Tsumugine. TPAM takes place at various venues across Yokohama from 11–19 February.

John Zorn’s performance venue The Stone to close its doors

The New York venue hopes it will find another home from 2018 onwards

After 13 years in action, John Zorn’s not for profit experimental music venue The Stone looks set to close its doors. Founded in 2005 by Zorn, who holds the role of Artist Director, the venue in Manhattan’s East Village has staged more than 7000 performances. 100 per cent of its ticket sales go to performers, and with no refreshments or merchandise sold onsite, expenses are covered through donations and the selling of limited edition CDs featuring live recordings made at the venue. According to its website, The Stone’s last gig is scheduled to happen in February 2018 – however the venue remains hopeful of finding a new home.

“All of us at The Stone extend heartfelt thanks to the musicians who have performed here, the volunteers who have kept it running, our patrons who have given generously to help cover our expenses and to our audience for its support,” writes Zorn. “We do hope you will all enjoy this last year in our historic underground East Village location and that you will all follow the music wherever it leads. Venues come and go but the music continues on forever!”