The Wire

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Showing posts from 2008|10

Tales From The Bog

Swamp Thing

Funky may be the new disco, but that's not stopping anybody from jumping on the bandwagon. Seems like all it takes is for Kode9 to publicly announce his approval and every blogger is a convert.

Skream, on the other hand, was recently overheard giving the thumbs down to Rinse's new Funky club night, Beyond. But before we could jump to conclusions about the crown prince of Dubstep disapproving the new old dance permutation, he quickly corrected us. Seems his disdain is just for Beyond and not for Funky. In fact, he tells us that he's got a new project in the works called Funky Junkie, a collaboration with noted Funky-man Geeneus. But Skream, darling, haven't you heard Geeneus's remix of "Night"? It's crap.

Now, before you all start wondering about a possible rift in the Ammunition camp, let's talk about real catfights. Apparently, the minimal techno scene in Berlin isn't quite as cosy as we thought it was. A little bird tells us that Perlon and M-nus may have been having a little tiff for yoinks. It may or may not have had something to do with M-Nus 'licensing' tracks from Perlon without permission. Naughty naughty. Still, Perlon may be having the last laugh as it turns out we weren't the only ones who enjoyed M-Nus's hairball-inducing photoshoot for Contakt. Richie may make some good music, but that doesn't mean he has any taste.

Finally, in a real WTF moment, we've been informed (belatedly, why are we the last to find out about everything?) that Russell Haswell's partner is Amanda Donohoe. She of television fame circa LA Law, etc. Apparently, she also used to go out with Adam Ant, so maybe she just likes moody musicians?

p.s. We love disco.


Braxton Competition

Derek Walmsley

Amongst other goodies in The Wire 297 was a piece on Anthony Braxton's Arista recordings, where some of his wildest projects were bankrolled by a major label hungry for the new thing of the New Thing (it was probably the most complex feature I've ever subbed on the magazine, where Bill Shoemaker patiently unfolds these densely layered constructions).

Mosaic have kindly given us one of these great box sets of the Arista years, and there's a competition on our site to win it:

We'd like you to draw a diagram in the style used by Anthony Braxton to name his compositions graphically. The diagram should be describing a piece of music for any combination of instruments or elements. The main aim is to produce a diagram that looks like it might have been rendered by Anthony Braxton to name one of his compositions. The more imaginative and wild the better. Remember this is the musician who scored pieces for orchestras and puppet theatres, as well as for multiple orchestras located on different planets and in different galaxies.

If Anthony Braxton spent the 70s scoring pieces for celestial orchestras, I think you owe it to him to have a scribble with a pen and paper. More info is here


Doom's Pastoral Palliative

Nathan Budzinski

Re Derek's post yesterday:
As an uplifting balm to soothe the terror of their doom laden Clearspot last night, Resonance FM is broadcasting the work of artist and shaman Marcus Coates. "Pastoral Spirit" will apparently include a choir singing birdsong along with performing a variety of animal calls. Will the concrete hardened city worker find the same solace in Coates' channeling of relaxing ambient nature as the residents of Linosa Close did?

Clearspot: GMT 8pm tonight


prediction of doom

Derek Walmsley

Great sounding show on Resonance FM tonight:

What better time than during the biggest ever economic collapse to explore the strangely comforting tones of Doom Metal? With leading band names like Earth, Om and Sunn, this drone laden branch of heavy metal cultivates an elemental niche where aficionados enjoy artistic creativity predicated on electric guitars and a world rendered absurd.

It's on their Clearspot slot, at 8pm GMT.


refrains of rai

Derek Walmsley

It's hard to resist an album called 1970's Algerian Proto-Rai Underground. You've got the promise of some strange prototype of unheard urban music; the North African connection, only a decade and a bit after Algeria emerged from French rule; plus, the idea of pop operating through underground channels, which sounds a contradiction in terms for Westerners, but is less improbable in the Middle East and North Africa (I'm reminded of the electronica underground in Iran, for instance).

The music is almost as exciting as the title. One refrain on the album is particularly familiar to fans of 90s rave, with one track using a version of the "We are IE" vocal, which found its way, twisted via rave speak, onto Lenny De Ice's proto-jungle classic "We Are E". I'm not sure what the vocal is – it's found across a lot of Rai music, with what sounds like the same lyrics and the same melody. Whatever, the refrain is certainly spine-chilling, and so memorable that the dancehall/urban/mixadelic website weareie, who curate the excellent Blogariddims series, grabbed it for their name (which puns on the Irish connection of the people who do the site).

The audio meme of this vocal secretly linking rai and rave sent me on a frenzy of googling and downloading, trying to figure out other versions of the refrain. I eventually remembered Cheb Mami had done a particularly good track which had it in; a pop song which is like an excerpt from My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, with the kind of eerie vocal that graced "Boat Woman Song" from Holger Czukay's Canaxis.

Maybe it's the one Lenny De Ice sampled, but in any case, the track is mindboggling in its own right. The time signatures are so fluid I can't follow them at all, and yet it's entirely second nature to Cheb Mami himself. Some amazing fusions happened when francophone African musicians had to figure out what they were doing on the fly in Parisian recording studios; Cheb Mami's stuff is some of the best I've heard. It's instantly resonant, but complex and elusive too... much like that vocal refrain itself.

It's well worth checking out - and stands its own next to almost any other tune from anywhere on the planet. Cheb Mami- "Douni El Bladi" [RE-UPPED 24/10/08)


... or exchange?

Derek Walmsley

I got a nostalgic rush when a promo CD of the new Streets album came into the office – not a reaction to the CD inside, but the slipcase, which is from (presumably purchased, but who knows?) Music And Video Exchange, the dusty and sprawling Notting Hill second hand record emporium where I used to work for quite a few years. The red sticker in the corner, where they reduce the prices month by month, is the giveaway. As it happens, I'm not the only Wire writer who has passed through its, er, hallowed doors.

I was in the the other day, selling old CDs into the shops to exchange for other stuff. My plan to invest in valuable classical vinyl, in the hope that it will hold its value when the economy goes into total meltdown, was thwarted, though. Their classical shop due is to close any day, and the racks were empty. I wonder, though, with an upcoming recession, if second hand emporiums will soon be booming again, packed with fresh stock from cash-strapped punters.

The beauty of MVE was that you came at music culture backwards. You're surrounded not by usual music that is pushed at you, but the stuff that gathers together at the margins. Outdated music was often more poignant than music which still held its popular currency. In most MVE shops, records never went below 50p – even at that price, the assumption was that someone would have a use for it, even if the root of that use was as kitsch, sample fodder or curiosity value. This was where you found new uses for music. The process is rather like musical compost, biodegrading in its own filth, but providing all sorts of vital micro nutrients to other growths. I used to greedily suck up cheap old jungle compilations, packed with fat hits but with zero cool quotient; hit-it-and-quit-it dancehall 7"s which had been cheapily pressed up in the thousands and were now sitting around gathering dust; random white labels, noone knowing what the hell they are except for a catalogue number; quasi bootleg jazz compilations which nonetheless provided strange trawls through the oeuvres of the likes of Billie Holliday and Charlie Parker.

Recycling all these vast swathes of music culture, you get that sense of the street finding its own use for things, as the saying goes; what The Streets has to do with it, I'm not so sure.


André Avelãs

Nathan Budzinski


Didn't manage to get this posted in time for anyone near London to be able to get to the show unfortunately (my apologies) but André Avelãs's exhibition in the IBID Projects space in East London was a good example of the sculpture as musical instrument approach to sound art.

The small gallery space was filled with a low level whine that sounded as if the air conditioning had gone dangerously awry, the atmosphere having something toxic about it, making the room foggy in the same way a fire alarm can cause a blinkered panic or loss of peripheral vision. The cause of the whine was a number of large balloons deflating slowly throughout the day, their leaking nozzles hooked up to small whistles and a Hohner Melodica. The result being a constant feeling of, well, anxious deflation - the composition a prolonged entropic sighing glissando, though the sight of the giant balloons with "HIGHLY FLAMMABLE" hand stencilled onto their surface offset the droning with a cartoon quality.

With work like this I always wish to see them in some form of a performance. Why create these interestingly odd sculpture/instrument hybrids, then let them idle away their time in the relatively sober environs of a contemporary art gallery? Though, a show he was in as part of last Summer's Tuned City festival in Berlin looked interesting, much more active and dirty.