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Plastic People under threat

Derek Walmsley

The big news doing the rounds of London club culture last week was concerning the future of Plastic People, the longstanding home of the FWD>> club and a key part of dubstep’s history. The Metropolitan Police have applied to review the license of the club, citing reasons of prevention of crime and disorder and public nuisance. DJs such as Kode9, Theo Parrish and Mark Ernestus have regularly appeared there, and it’s one of London’s most intimate venues, a small space designed for close listening. An organisation called The Friends of Plastic People has been formed, which aims to help the PP management to comply with the licensing conditions.

On a personal note, I find this disturbing and bizarre news. Plastic People is certainly one of the most welcoming and most trouble-free places I've ever been to. Compare with the rest of the Shoreditch area – one of the most densely populated places for strip clubs and brothels in the whole of the UK, due to the nearby presence of the City – and it's baffling how police could conclude that crime prevention would be well served by focusing their scrutiny on this intimate club, where you'll generally find 200 odd fairly well-behaved music fans.

To me, I find it part of a slightly unsettling trend – urban music events are being regularly cancelled on the whim of the police, it seems, from the UK tour of rapper Giggs to numerous grime events over the years. The notorious Form 696 is apparently used by police to monitor grime events in particular, which requires addresses and contact details for all artists appearing on the night (which for a grime event can be many, many MCs). I can't be alone in viewing this as a gross invasion of privacy.

The problem here is that the police are essentially the sole arbiter of what constitutes safety in the context of club culture. From the outside, it appears they're more comfortable with busy, boozy, pubs and superclubs than intimate and self-regulating underground events. At a time when binge drinking is seen as a serious public health threat, it seems that police are unwittingly whittling down events into just the kind of mainstream, mass-market entertainment channels that encourages conspicuous consumption.

On Saturday, I went to another London club, Proud Gallery in Camden. Truly one of the most unpleasant clubbing experiences I've ever had, it was dangerously packed to capacity, full of aggressive punters packed into close-quarters, and with unsmiling security guards moving crowds from pillar to post to stop people congregating in the quiet areas. Is this the terrifying future of clubbing, where security guards make sure there's no disruption to the surrounding neighbourhood by packing clubbers in like cattle? Perhaps that should be horses, given the building's history. I mentioned the dangerous amount of people in there to a black clad, baseball cap wearing security guard at the end of the night, who merely shrugged. We walked away from the club, feeling like we'd narrowly escaped from a mass bar-room punch-up. But at least there was no crime or disorder on the street, eh?

As things stand, there are two ways to help Plastic People. You can sign the petition at . The most important action, though, is via local letters sent to Hackney Licensing from local residents and businesses. Details of Hackney Council's licensing section can be found here. A Facebook group is also distributing information on how you can help.

A hearing on the future of the club’s licence is due to take place before 31 March.


I got an email in response from Alex of Proud Camden. Here's part of it he asked to be quoted:

We stick to police capacity and have done since we opened.
We don’t allow any AIS security guards to wear headwear and never have. We also don’t allow any form of military clothing.
We try to make all our staff polite and pleasant.
We have to stop people congregating in fire exits, it’s simply the law. This annoys people obviously, but it’s the law, not us!
We were not over capacity and it was not dangerous. There are 7 sets of double width fire exits, 2 or more to each room, a fire alarm that cuts out the music and over 17 floor staff who are on the radio and there to watch for everyone’s safety at all times.
It was hot on Saturday night and that made the club unpleasant for an hour until the ventilation was cranked back on for the first time since summer.
There never has been a punch up and we pride ourselves on how safe Proud is and will continue to be.

We will review all procedures , and I am sorry you had such a bad evening, we honestly hate it when people have a negative time!

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Parallel Voices: Missing Link - tix on sale now

Nathan Budzinski

Tickets for the Carsten Nicolai curated Parallel Voices: Missing Link at London's Siobhan Davies Dance Studio (sponsored by The Wire) will be going on sale from 8 February. The three day event, which features talks and performances from Blixa Bargeld, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Christian Fennesz and Chris Carter amongst others, takes place 17 - 19 March with tickets priced at £15/£10 (multibuy ticket) or £9/£6 per night... Get them while you can as there is very limited space available at the venue!

Click here for more information

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Flying Lotus 4/20 Broadcast

Nathan Budzinski

Flying Lotus will be DJing an internet broadcast to mark "4/20", an annual celebration of the Cannabis plant taking place today (20 April). Lotus will be joined by members of his Brainfeeder crew, including The Gaslamp Killer, Ras G, Daedelus, Teebs, Matthewdavid, Dr. Strangeloop and more. Tune in to the session at, 20 April, 12pm in Los Angeles, 3pm in New York, 8pm in the UK and 4am in Japan.

The set is also in anticipation of Flying Lotus's forthcoming album, Cosmogramma, out 4 May on Warp Records. Cosmogramma is on pre-sale for 24 hours from the time of the broadcast. Buyers of the album also get a free art print by Flying Lotus along with the chance to win the original.

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Extended Sun Ra Arkestra Residency @ Cafe Oto

Nathan Budzinski

As reported here last week, the Sun Ra Arkestra were grounded by the clouds of volcanic dust still looming over Europe. As a result of ongoing flight cancellations, the Arkestra have added yet another date to their popular residency at London's Cafe Oto in order to pay for their hotel costs. Tickets for the performance tonight (19 May) are available now for £10, but be quick as the last night sold out in two hours!

Now sold out!


Extra Sun Ra Arkestra performance @ Cafe Oto

Nathan Budzinski

Due to a large cloud of volcanic ash, the Sun Ra Arkestra have been grounded in London. As a result they've decided to add an extra night of their residency at Cafe Oto, tix are £10, but get them asap as the previous 3 nights sold out fast. Doors at 8pm

Update: Advance tickets are now sold out, but there will be some available on the door tonight.


Parallel Lives: Maja Ratkje & Kathy Hinde

Nathan Budzinski

Exclusive footage of Maja Ratkje and Kathy Hinde's collaborative work, Birds And Traces. The composition was created during a week long residency at Aldeburgh Music as part of Faster Than Sound, a series of residencies set up to promote crossover between classical composers and artists working with electronic media. Inspired by the themes of bird migration, the season of Spring and climate change, Birds And Traces involved school children local to the Snape area reinterpreting Norwegian songs about birds and Spring along with making origami birds and mapping out migration routes.

Alongside the resulting composition, the artists created two installations which included research materials produced during their residency and a multimedia film sculpture. The performance featured Norwegian accordionist Frode Haltli. Parallel Voices was curated by The Wire.

Also performing at Parallel Lives was Marina Rosenfeld, watch exclusive footage of her installation and performance here.

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Parallel Lives: Marina Rosenfeld

Nathan Budzinski

Footage of Marina Rosenfeld's composition Cannons, created specifically for the space at Aldeburgh Music's Hoffman Building at Snape, Suffolk during a one week residency leading up to the performance on 20 March 2010. Cannons features a custom built sound system comprised of four large resonating 'bass cannons' made out of steel pipes fitted with subwoofers, along with two steel horns, all created in collaboration with the sound engineer Paul Geluso and the Suffolk metalwork firm JT Pegg & Sons in Aldeburgh.

The work was made with Paul Geluso and players from the London Contemporary Orchestra: Robert Ames (viola), Lucy Railton (cello) and Sarah Cresswell (percussion) and was curated by The Wire.

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Acid flashbacks

Tony Herrington

“Will anybody under the age of 40 get that joke?” asks David Toop in the new March issue of The Wire, referring to the title of FennO’Berg’s In Stereo album. I’m a long way over the wrong side of 40, but still I ain’t laughing, mainly because, as David hints in his review of the record, In Stereo represents something of a muted return on the part of the original Powerbook trio. But the appearance of the album, not to mention its rather humdrum punning title, sends me back to a couple of unvoiced, and quite possibly half-arsed, notions that were prompted by the release of one of 2009’s most audacious records of digital sound processing, one which wipes the floor with In Stereo in terms of its conceptual rigour, and which happened to contain a pun in the title that could be got by at least three generations of electronic music aficionados.

Apart from being genuinely funny, not to mention an accurate indicator of what the actual music might sound like, as an album title, Acid In The Style Of David Tudor was a genius piece of sloganeering on the part of Florian Hecker. Talk about encapsulating the complex social and aesthetic evolution, not to mention the psychological make up, of an entire scene in one fell swoop. I didn’t know he had it in him, but Florian nailed the trajectory of a generation of current electronic music practitioners, who came of age in the long 80s afterburn of Industrial culture, were animated by rave’s psychotronic machine music and the systematic praxis of the first wave of post-war electronic music pioneers, and are now forwarding the march of digital sound out of the basements and the clubs and into the private gallery spaces of the 100 mile city.

In this regard, Florian himself could the archetype, the classic case study. But I suspect that Peter Rehberg and possibly also Christian Fennesz might recognise aspects of their own back stories in such a formulation. Jim O’Rourke too, if you factor out the rave connection, although Jim is perhaps more an example of those other dominant models in contemporary experimental digital sound work, the autistic autodidact, the perverse polymath. Certainly the music these three make together on In Stereo sounds like it could have been produced by individuals who once stalked the warehouse parties of Northern Europe in TG inspired leathers and combats but now slouch around the bright white interiors of sonic art biennials dressed in Paul Smith suits and charcoal grey shirts buttoned to the neck, no tie.

But there was an irony at the centre of Florian’s concept, in that David Tudor beat him to it by about three decades. Tudor’s 1976 piece Pulsers was described by the composer as an exploration of “the world of rhythms created electronically by analog, rather than digital, circuitry”. More to the point, it sounds weirdly like Marshall Jefferson, the Acid pioneer, getting to grips with the idiosyncracies that had been accidentally hardwired into the Roland TB-303, the Acid Machine itself.

In the sleevenotes to the 1996 Lovely Music CD Three Works For Live Electronics, which contains a version of Pulsers that was originally released on LP in 1984 and was assembled and mixed by Tudor with Nicolas Collins, John Cage’s favourite piano player writes: “With analog circuitry, the time-base common to the rhythms can be varied in many different ways by a performer, and can eventually become unstable.” Jefferson’s first record proper, released in 1985 (a year after Pulsers) under the name Virgo, was titled “Go Wild Rhythm Track”, so I reckon Chicago’s experimental House authority could get to that.

Several minutes into Pulsers, a tape of Takehisa Kosugi improvising on an electronic violin is inserted into the mix, and all of a sudden the track sounds more like Henry Flynt jamming with the Drummers of Burundi. But play the first few minutes of it back to back with Sleezy D’s Marshall Jefferson-produced “I’ve Lost Control” back to back with any of the tracks on Acid In The Style Of David Tudor and don’t tell me you can’t hear some occluded synchronicities rearing up to wipe the smirk off Florian Hecker’s face (unless that irony was intended, of course, in which case Florian is even smarter than I thought).


Netaudio survey: How does the Internet influence your music habits?

Nathan Budzinski

The Netaudio festival (an offline festival for online music) are calling out for participants in a short survey about the effect of the internet on how people make and listen to music. It should take about 10-15 minutes of your time and has some prizes up for grabs to those who complete it, including a copy of our very own The Wire Primers, a Last FM membership subscription, a copy of Nicolas Collins's Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking and a copy of Steve Goodman's (aka Kode9) Sonic Warfare: Sound, Effect And The Ecology Of Fear amongst other goodies.

Click here to go to the survey

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