The Wire

In Writing

Archive Portal: Mark Fisher

January 2017

Following the death of contributor Mark Fisher on 13 January 2017, we present a selection of his articles for the magazine from the past ten years. Introductions by Derek Walmsley. Click on the links to read the articles.

The Wire 285 (November 2007): Underground Resistance

The Underground Resistance collective in The Hague, September 2007: (from left) Ray 7, DJ Skurge, De’Sean Jones, William Pope (just seen), Atlantis, Esteban Adame, Stevie Bee, Juan Atkins, Mark Taylor (just seen), John Nance. Photo by Daniëlle van Ark

Mark's first feature for the magazine was a rare in-person interview with Detroit techno collective Underground Resistance, whom he met in the Netherlands. "Securing the interview was a gruelling trial of faith, involving missed emails, late night phone calls, postponements and a rearranged travel itinerary," he writes. "My innate paranoia intensified by sleep deprivation, I had begun to imagine that I was being subjected to a programme of UR psychological warfare." When he eventually sits down with UR’s Mad Mike, he finds an interviewee full of warmth and ideas, talking widely about Marvel comics, progressive rock and playing organ in his local church. Mad Mike insisted on remaining masked for the feature’s photographs. “People need a face all the time and for many years I don’t give them a face, but now – internet, cellphone – people take pictures of me, the shit’s all over the internet." he explains in the interview. ”I figure, well, hopefully the people will still have some honour, and honour my wish not to be seen in front of my music.”

The Wire 286 (December 2007): Rufige Kru

Goldie

Mark’s Epiphanies column in The Wire 286 was an appreciation of Rufige Kru, Goldie's groundbreaking jungle project – not drum 'n' bass, insists Mark. "A year after I had bought the Ghosts Of My Life EP I was swept up in the founding of the Cybernetic , Culture Research Unit (Ccru) set up by Sadie Plant and Nick Land," he recalled. "Where the dominant American accounts of cyberculture had been based around the nascent internet but had no real place for music, Ccru’s version of cyberculture put jungle at its heart of darkness." "Ghosts Of My Life" sampled Japan's 1981 song "Ghosts", and both pieces would be revisited in the 2014 essay collection spanning music, memory and mental health, which Mark named after the Rufige Kru track .

The Wire 286 (December 2007): Burial

Burial, 2007. Photo by Georgina Cook

Burial's self-titled debut album was voted The Wire's top release of 2006 in the magazine's annual Rewind poll. The following year, Mark conducted a rare in-person interview with the elusive South London producer, who is part of the roster of Hyperdub, the label run by Steve Goodman, Mark's associate from the days of the Ccru. Burial discloses a reason for his distinctive use of wordless vocal samples – he can't get a proper singer – and the interviewer and interviewee find common ground on the ghost stories of MR James. The feature also presents Mark's core ideas on a favoured subject, the theme of hauntology in music: "Of all the acts that have been called ‘hauntological’ – acts as diverse as Mordant Music, The Caretaker, Ariel Pink, Little Axe, Philip Jeck – Burial makes the most convincing case that our zeitgeist is essentially hauntological." The photographs of Burial are by Georgina Cook, whose contemporaneous blog Drumz Of The South was an important visual document of the capital's early dubstep scene.

The Wire 304 (June 2009): The Caretaker

The Caretaker in Katharinenholz near Potsdam, April 2009. Photo by Jan Stradtmann

“I have always been fascinated by memory and its recall, especially where sound is concerned,” says The Caretaker aka James Kirby in his interview with Mark. The former V/Vm member proved a kindred spirit in this 2009 interview, which takes in the UK miners’ strike and Christopher Nolan's film Memento. A recurrent theme in the feature and across Mark's later writings is the trajectory of dance music after its explosion in the eras of house and rave. "Tracks sound like they are being heard from outside a club," he notes of one of Kirby's projects. "A horribly accurate sonic metaphor, perhaps, for our current state of exile from the future-shocking rate of innovation that dance music achieved in the 1980s and 90s."

The Wire 335 (January 2012): The Noise Of Dissent

Reflecting on a year in which the UK experienced its worst civil disorder in over 20 years, following a police marksman’s fatal shooting of Mark Duggan in North London, Mark discusses the sound of dissent in grime and dubstep, and the emergence of new autonomous political movements such as the Deterritorial Support Group. Noting that TV historian David Starkey had blamed "black culture" for exacerbating the disturbances, Mark identifies a "case of ruling class panic and ignorance". Punk and post-punk remains a touchstone for Mark, as it did for his writing across the magazine: "2012 is shaping up to be the most symbolically charged year in the UK since 1977. Is this the year when No Future will finally come to an end?"

The Wire 362 (April 2014): Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson (left) and Andrew Fearn

“The East Midlands accent, lacking urban glamour, lilting lyricism or rustic romanticism, is one of the most unloved in the UK.” Mark, himself a native of the East Mids, digs the flow of Nottingham based rant-rap duo Sleaford Mods in this appreciation of their Divide And Exit and Chubbed Up albums. Reflecting on the corrosive cliches of proles and mods in the era of austerity, Mark asks for alternatives to the “liveable shit” that Sleaford Mods decry. "It isn’t always the role of political music to come up with solutions," he notes. "But nothing could be more urgent than the questions that Sleaford Mods pose"

Comments

Really very sad to hear that Mark Fisher has died. He was a tremendous thinker and writer - often controversial, which is of course a very good thing. He will be sorely missed.

Mark Fisher's writing was always informative and thought provoking, but above all it was fun. You could feel the love he had for all the musicians he was profiling.

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