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The Mire: Tangents, threads and opinions from The Wire HQ

MWC at Outer Church

Derek Walmsley

A quick heads up for Brighton Wire folk: Joseph Stannard's psych/prog/kraut/cosmic/electronic extravaganza The Outer Church touches down again on 9 June, with a special guest DJ in the shape of Moon Wiring Club’s Ian Hodgson, who promises "AN ELECTRONIX FIZZPOP SLURRED ITALO SYNPOP SPACE EXPLOSION". We don't know as yet if he'll be DJing in capitals. That's his marvelous flyer above. There'll be the usual music from Giorgio Moroder to Mordant Music to Magma. It takes place at The Penthouse @ The Freebutt and it's FREE.

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Sublime Frequencies - In The Streets Of Mexico City

Nathan Budzinski

elnicho, a mail order project for experimental music (who co-curated the recent Radar festival in Mexico City), has curated an evening celebrating the musically omniverous, globe-spanning Sublime Frequencies series. The evening will feature tunes and projections culled from the extensive Sublime Frequencies catalogue, along with wild dancing. It all takes place on 13 May at the Galeria del Comercio, a gallery for free public art projects on the streets in Mexico City (in this case, one particular corner).

Links:
press page with streaming playlist, videos and articles

elnicho blog (in spanish): focus on Sublime Frequencies with Alan Bishop's interview and selected reviews

SF on elnicho (in spanish and available in mexico only)

Event on Facebook

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Susan Philipsz: The Internationale

Nathan Budzinski

Sound artist Susan Philipsz has been nominated for the Turner Prize this year (along with The Otolith Group, one half of which is The Wire contributor Kodwo Eshun). It reminded me that we shot some footage of an installation of hers at the ICA back in 2008.

The Internationale was shown for two days at the ICA in central London off The Mall, a wide boulevard leading from Trafalgar Square up to Buckingham Palace (monarchs use The Mall to impress during state visits and other ceremonies). To experience the piece, a small group of visitors were led to the rear of the ICA and up a ladder onto the bare roof terrace. A single loudspeaker attached to the façade of the grand building broadcast Philipsz’s voice softly warbling its way through the anthem of international socialism, blending with the background drone of city traffic. Philipsz’s work takes the form of a series of cover versions; studies in how particular songs can mutate, displacing them from their own time, projecting them via a different voice (usually her own), and mixing them into different spaces (usually public, transient ones). Filter, one of her better known works, has the artist singing pop songs by Radiohead, The Velvet Underground, The Vaselines and The Rolling Stones through the public address system at a supermarket in East London. An earlier version took place in Belfast’s main bus station, both installations eliciting a wide range of responses, from interested to irritated (as covered in Cross Platform, The Wire 244)

Philipsz has presented several versions of The Internationale. The first was in a pedestrian underpass in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1999. Another took place in 2000 at Berlin’s Friedrichstraße Station, a notorious border crossing between East and West Germany during the Cold War. Both of those installations, situated in the former Eastern Bloc, would seem to turn the song into an elegy for a time when international socialism was a reality. It’s less certain what’s happening in this London version though. Situated in the heart of the old British Empire and current capital of finance, the displaced Internationale has either lost an authoritative voice or is just being drowned out by the city’s noise.

The Internationale was made as part of Out Of Bounds, a short series of artists interventions in the private spaces of arts institutions around central London.

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Steve Reid Memorial Session

Nathan Budzinski

The folks at Soul Jazz Records have organised a night at Cafe Oto to celebrate the life and work of the late drummer Steve Reid, who over the course of his long career worked with a wide array of artists including Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, James Brown, Fela Kuti and Sun Ra . Details on the flyer below.

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TG Vids (and others...)

Nathan Budzinski

Check out some recent footage shot by Chris Carter of a jam during Throbbing Gristle's soundcheck in LA as part of their US tour which ends tonight in NYC with a sold out show... Next up is June 19th show in Copenhagen followed by two appearances on the 21st (the earlier show is already sold out) in London [check out their site for more info]

LA Soundcheck Jam from Chris Carter on Vimeo.

Also out there in the eVideosphere UbuWeb continue their expansion with a few interesting vids:
Craig Baldwin's 1995 film Sonic Outlaws which looks at copyright infringement, music and art including Negativland (and their run in with U2 and Island Records)

And on the TG theme, UbuWeb's also posted Tony Oursler's Synesthesia interview with Genesis P-Orridge (part of a series of interviews with Downtown NYC artists including John Cale, Thurston Moore, Dan Graham, Genesis P-Orridge, Kim Gordon, Glenn Branca, Laurie Anderson, Tony Conrad, David Byrne, Lydia Lunch, Alan Vega, and Arto Lindsay)

All of this along with some work by the digital artist Cory Arcangel (Wire #290) and Derek Jarman's 1993 film Wittgentstein

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Arkestra Get Busy In London

Nathan Budzinski

After being grounded in London by an erupting volcano in Iceland, the Marshall Allen-led Sun Ra Arkestra, added two extra evenings to their residency at Café Oto, both of which sold out in hours. Now, news from the BBC Radio 3 twitter feed tells us that they're continuing to make the most of their London, Earth-bound hours by heading in to the Jazz On 3 studios to record a special "Volcanic Session" for the show...

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Mad, stupid, fresh

Derek Walmsley

If you're in NYC today, this talk/discussion/crate-digging session featuring Dave Tompkins (plus old hiphop sparing partner Hua Hsu), celebrating the launch of Dave's book How To Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II To Hip Hop – The Machine Speaks. looks fantastic. A real one-off for sure... here's what Dave says:

I'll be doing a vocoder book reading TODAY, 7 p.m., at McNally Jackson on 52 Prince Street in Soho, near Lafayette. Expect missiles, Muppets, asthma attacks, and vanishing staircases.

It will be hosted by New York Times critic Jon Caramanica and Hua Hsu. Jon is a big fan of "Nasty Rock," the only vocoder hit out of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. Hua Hsu writes for the Atlantic Monthly and has been subjected to just about every freaking hare-brained scheme that went into this thing.

The legendary EMS-3000 Vocoder will also be in the house, still coherent after running around with the Cylons, Pink Floyd and ELO.

The reading will be followed by a party at Trophy Bar, at 351 Broadway, btwn 9th and Keap Streets, with classy boogie-disco-electro-hip-hop-assorted-hyphenated-whatnot provided by some of my favorite New York DJs.

Duane Harriott (Other Music/Negroclash/Bim Marx) did my favorite gospel disco edit from last summer. Veronica Vasicka runs the excellent Minimal Wave label and radio show. East Village Radio. Chairman Mao (ego trip) recently made it possible for me to hear about how Schoolly D's wife once kicked the 2 Live Crew out of Schoolly D's house. I've been collaborating with Monk-One (Wax Poetics) on the book mix which will be up next week and will include a special edit of Gary Numan's "Telekon."

Sponsored by the ghosts of those two Signal Corps officers presiding over the turntables in the photo. (SIGSALY Vocoder Terminal codenamed SAMPLE, Paris, 1945)

Be sure to say hi to the stop smiling/runner folks who worked so incredibly hard to make this book. Ask James Hughes why "Biters In The City" made him freak out.

.
Thanks to Kevin at AnalogLifestyle for the McNally Flyer and the unstoppable Tina Ibanez for the party flyer.

Hope to see you there!

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The Wire Salon, Sonic Warfare: 
The Politics Of Frequency

Nathan Budzinski

The Wire’s monthly series of salon-type evenings continues with author and The Wire contributor Ken Hollings (author of Welcome To Mars and Destroy All Monsters and presenter of the Hollingsville series on Resonance FM) and Steve Goodman (Kode9, author of Sonic Warfare), discussing the uses and abuses of sound and noise from sonic bombs to soundclashes.

Below is a short online reading and listening list in anticipation of the event (mostly via Ken Hollings)

•Stream Hollings's Radio 3 programme From Gameboy to Armageddon on the Military Entertainment Complex

•Hollings's Radio 3 programme, All Your Tomorrows Today on the RAND Corporation.

•PDF download of Theatres Of War: The Military-Entertainment Complex, an essay by Tim Lenoir and Henry Lowood.

• Read the introduction and a sample chapter from Steve Goodman's Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, And The Ecology Of Fear published by MIT Press.

•Projects page of the Institute For Creative Technologies - an institute set up to bring military planners, games designers, Hollywood SFX people and experts in interactive technology together.

•Give yourself an adrenalin buzz (or scare yourself silly) with Bohemia Interactive's Virtual Battlespace 2 promotional film.

The salon takes place at London's Cafe Oto, 6 May, 8pm, £4.

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The Wire Salon, Revenant Forms: The Meaning Of Hauntology

Nathan Budzinski

A new series of monthly events in East London curated by The Wire Magazine. The evenings will consist of readings, talks, panel debates, film screenings, DJ sets and live performances. The first instalment is Revenant Forms: The Meaning Of Hauntology at London's Café Oto, 1 April, 8pm, £4 on the door only

Mark Fisher (K-Punk) leads a panel with Adam Harper and Joseph Stannard debating the uncanny quality of so much contemporary audio, from spektral disco to dubstep, Hypnagogic pop and beyond. Plus screenings of films by Julian House (Ghost Box, The Focus Group), a live set by Moon Wiring Club and eldritch vinyl interludes courtesy of Mordant Music.

Below we've compiled a short online reading and listening list in anticipation of the event:

Ian Penman's Black Secret Tricknology, first published in The Wire issue 133

A transcript excerpt from Joseph Stannard's interview with Broadcast, which formed part of Stannard's cover feature on the group in The Wire issue 308

Mark Fisher's K-Punk blog
Phonograph Blues
Nostalgic Modernism

Adam Harper's Rouge's Foam blog
Hauntology: The Past Inside The Present

Joseph Stannard's The Outer Church
Revenant Forms: Future-Past Preview

Website of the label and design project Ghost Box

Jim Jupp's Belbury Parish Magazine

Mordant Music home to Baron Mordant, Admiral Greyscale, Sam Shackleton and more

James Kirby's (aka The Caretaker) History Always Favours The Winners

Listen to some tracks from Moon Wiring Club

Broadcast and The Focus Group "I See, So I See So"
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlVaRcNf9nc]

Phenomena And Occurrences
, a Ghost Box film by Julian House.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ogUcIIn_cU]

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The Bob Medley

Tony Herrington

Following its reissues of Robert Wyatt’s UK solo albums, the Domino label is about to release His Greatest Misses, a 2004 Japan-only compilation. If you're looking for a one-stop comp that distills Wyatt’s unique essence, this is it, right down to the sleeve art, which reproduces a number of cute crayon drawings by the six year old Robert. It pulls key tracks from all the solo records from Rock Bottom (1974) to Cuckoo Land (2003), plus it contains a number of Wyatt’s inspired cover versions, including "At Last I Am Free", originally written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers for Chic's 1978 C'est Chic album.

In his glittering history of disco, Turn The Beat Around (Faber And Faber, 2005), Peter Shapiro devotes a whole chapter to illuminating the ambiguous emotional and socio-political currents that run beneath the sophisticated, aspirational vibe that describes the sleek surface of Chic's music, that make Chic into a much more complex proposition than you might at first think, something more than just amazing grooves, irresistible hooks and inspired arrangements, as if we needed pop to give us anything more than that.

Running for more than seven minutes, "At Last I Am Free" is an extended modern R&B; ballad, an epic metropolitan soul mantra (Chic could write those as easily as they could knock off devastating disco grooves), played at “a crawling tempo”, as Peter describes it, with the Chic singers, Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin, “sounding alternately like zombies and angels”.

What a strange song for Wyatt to cover, you might think.

I like cover versions that subvert or detourn the originals in some way (as in the kind of covers discussed in The Wire's Remake Remodel feature in issue 261), but Wyatt's version is a bit different, a cover that plays it more or less straight, but which ratchets up the complexity of pop in rare and precious ways, not least of which is that it's a cover by a musician who was supposedly the ultimate in gritty, engaged political art of a song by a group that was supposedly the ultimate in vacuous escapist pop. But as Peter's book tells us, Chic were far more than that, and Wyatt has always been a musician willing to ride roughshod over the knee jerk expectations and prejudices of his audience and the media.

A very bitter wind blows through the song. The chorus couplet haunts me: "At last I am free/I can hardly see in front of me." The lyric sounds like it is describing a particularly devastating break up narrative, but it's also hard not to hear it as a comment on the failure of Amerikkka to deliver on the promises it made during the heyday of the civil rights movement. That's one reason Wyatt covered it, I guess, as a statement of political solidarity. The other reason he covered it would be rather more prosaic, I suspect: Wyatt knows a great pop song when he hears one, and this is up there with the best of them. The combination of the melody line and the chord sequence beneath make it into a classic heartbreaker of a tune, but combine those qualities with the complex of emotions encoded in that couplet in the chorus and you have an example of a pop song that digs deep to access some kind of existential truth about the unbearable sadness of the human condition.

No shit.

I actually prefer Wyatt’s version to Chic's. It replaces the lush orchestration of the original with a very minimal arrangement that exposes the stark sentiments in the lyric more effectively. In place of the undead or ethereal spirits, Wyatt sounds more like an inspired pub crooner, bringing tears to the eyes of the denizens of the snug, as he warbles with heartbreaking sincerity thru a glass bottom phut cig (as Mark E Smith, another great snug (non-)singer-philosopher made good, once put it).

The Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser has also covered the song. But I don't like her version much: the arrangement is too sugary-sweet and over-produced (like most Cocteau Twins tracks) and Fraser's performance tries too hard to ring every last drop of tragic emotion from the song. I'm guessing I might be out of step with the zeitgeist here, as we are slap bang in the middle of another 80s revival (cf minimal wave, chillwave, glo-fi, and so on and so forth: seriously, I've not heard this many new tracks using that blissed out chorus effect on the vocals since PM Dawn), but for me her version is too arch and knowing and too calculated to affect. It reminds me of something John Cage once said, when someone asked him why he didn't like to be moved, emotionally, by music. I don't mind being moved by music, Cage quipped, I just don't like to be pushed.

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