Including noise in Shanghai, Borbetomagus documentaries, the revitalised FM radio spectrum, whalesong, ventriloquism, John Fahey's paintings and more
This year, The Wire's online humunculus was more active than ever before – here's a roundup of all that which requires an attention surplus; the cream of the long form from 2014.
We published columns on sonification; the effect of archive fever on the current musical landscape; the all you can eat buffet of nothing; the survival of the epic, and Deutsche Grammophon’s 1970s forays into free jazz. Chinese noise musician Yan Jun asked which hell we would prefer, and Stewart Home talked about Northern Soul and his gym obsession, while Derek Walmsley tuned in to the FM radio spectrum, now revitalised by a swathe of community stations.
Long form features on The Wire covered the natural world and the unnatural realm. Monitoring the changing song of the humpback whale, David Rothenberg contended that whale song of the 1960s is different (and to some minds better) than the whale song of today. Kasper Opstrup communed with the history of psychic music making, from Burroughs through to contemporary psychic jam sessions by the likes of Matmos, Jennifer Walshe and Rashad Becker. We watched lips twitch on the history of ventriloquism, and looked at the peculiar science of casino acoustics. The entire archive is available to read here.
We added some rare fish to the ever expanding sea of online audio, publishing tracks found while crate digging in Kuala Lumpur, a collection of live recordings made at Copenhagen's underground venue Mayhem and a recreation of one of the earliest known compositions for an electric instrument. We hosted not one but two selections of work by the tape collagist and visual artist Adam Bohman, Argentine guitarist Alan Courtis put together his own Wirecast, Selvhenter and the Eget Værelse cohort put together a selection of their sounds. There was a bumper crop of David Rosenboom compositions, Justin Broadrick tracks; plus more by Torturing Nurse, Lee Gamble, Maya Dunietz, Stefan Jaworzyn and many others, all of it archived here. Whether you're looking to catch up on the previous year's new releases, or forward into the new year, our weekly radio shows from Resonance FM and NTS are archived in full here.
Galleries covered John Fahey’s paintings and the early days of the Berlin squat scene, plus futuristic flyers from Mexico City, sound system culture in Huddersfield, the 1980s no wave scene, and much more. In moving image, we posted film excerpts throughout the year, including an excerpt from Matthew Smith's documentary about the Los Angeles beat scene, a documentary on Martin Bisi’s BC Studio, plus videos of performances by Maria Chavez, Richard Skelton with the Elysian Quartet, Jandek, and a rough edit of a forthcoming documentary on improv powerhouse Borbetomagus.
Normal operations resume from 5 January, but in the meantime, this should be enough to keep you busy.