The Wire


Call for submissions on reggae sound system and vinyl culture

The Sound System Outernational #4: Strictly Vinyl presentation will be happening in London in January 2018

Sound System Outernational #4: Strictly Vinyl has made an open call for works and papers to be showcased at a conference about reggae sound system and vinyl culture. Taking place at University of London Goldsmiths on 13 January 2018, the one day event offers the chance for practitioners and researchers to share their knowledge, experiences and appreciation of vinyl. The conference is part of Sound System Outernational’s larger initiative to recognise and support sound system cultures worldwide.The day will close with a club night running until 4am. Deadline for submissions is 30 November. For more information, email the organisers.

The Goldsmiths conference coincides with the arrival of the touring exhibition Let's Play Vinyl on 10 January, which will run until 12 February. Plus, on 12 January there will be a screening of Legacy In The Dust: The Four Aces Story, including a Q & A session with director Winstan Whitter; and on 14 January there will be participatory workshops for adults and young people. Go to this Tumblr page for more information.

Paul Buckmaster has died

The UK musician, composer and arranger was 71 years old

The death of Paul Buckmaster was announced by his management company McDaniel Entertainment on 8 November.

Born in London in 1946, Buckmaster picked up playing cello at an early age. After studying at Royal Academy of Music, he began his career with a focus on classical music but he soon started collaborating with rock and pop artists. He worked on David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (1969) and he was a member of The Third Ear Band when they composed the soundtrack to Roman Polanski’s 1972 film adaptation of Macbeth. He also played electric cello and contributed arrangements to Miles Davis’s On The Corner (1972). Indeed he played cello on many jazz recording sessions, British composer Neil Ardley's 1976 album Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows among them. In 1995 he composed the score for Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys, and in 2012 he participated in Kirk Degiorgio's The Beauty Room project. One of his longstanding working partnerships was with UK guitarist Michael Chapman, which continued into the 2010s.

Mats Gustaffson’s anthology of interviews probes the enduring fascination of vinyl

The veteran saxophonist talks to legendary record collectors including Henry Rollins, Robert Crumb and Wire contributors

"I want to get buried in a vinyl coffin, made from my collection. Viking burial style!" Mats Gustafsson has been a key player in improvised music for over three decades, and when he hasn’t been picking up a saxophone, he's been picking up records. In the spirit of giving something back, his website has for several years now been running a regular Discaholic’s Corner, where Gustafsson interviews fellow obsessives to understand and invesitgate the life of the collector. A new book, Mats Gustafsson’s Discaholics! Record Collector Confessions Volume 1 now collects ten of these interviews, with renowned music heads and archivists including Henry Rollins, Oren Ambarchi, Robert Crumb, Thurston Moore, The Wire’s Byron Coley and Brian Morton, and more.

A key inspiration for Gustafsson was the classic jazz book Notes And Tones: Musician To Musician Interviews, where drummer Arthur Taylor’s comradely rapport with his fellow players elicits details that no other interviewer could. Gustafsson’s interview style, displayed over the longform discussions of Discaholics!, is similarly fluid, sometimes probing deep into the knowledge of his fellow enthusiasts, but then throwing in more general reflections such as "Can discaholism be cured?" and "Which record is closest to sex?".

As to whether Gustafsson thinks discaholism can – or should – be cured, he says: "It depends on what you define as a ‘problem’, haha! I want them (the records) to have an impact on my life. That is for sure! Of course when it comes to various addictions, you need to have a relation to your addiction… I do have a relation to my addiction, I want my collection to get better, to inspire me. I want it alive, like a garden, trimming it every day."

The way Gustaffson puts it, the relationship to his records is about learning rather than preservation or stockpiling. "The most important aspect of my record collecting is the source of inspiration and information – it is to have a huge library of music (and literature). You can find new elements, details and structures all the time… just take a dive! It never ends, the sources of inspiration within the archive. I have rediscovered a lot of music again after many years… found many new perspectives and layers in the music."

Discaholics! is a mine of lists, obscure arcana, punk, jazz, discussion of logos and ephemera, and burning questions such as "What vinyl would trigger an earthquake?". For Gustafsson, part of the interest in his Discaholics column was unlocking new areas of interest for himself. "Learning is only possible to do from other (real) people…. the internet might be a good source of information but not for inspiration. There is a lot to learn." He enthuses about areas of music that Discaholics Corner has introduced him to, including hardcore, an area reflected in the book by Swedish punk scenster Dennis Lyxzén, and pre-war jazz and blues, as represented by venerable cartoonist Robert Crumb's renowned collection.

Some of the music covered in the book tends towards the manly and macho, and there's only one woman collector. “Yes, this IS a problem,” Gustafsson acknowledges. “In the beginning I was trying too make interviews with fellow discaholics that are interested in jazz and improvised music – just like me – and I have to say it has been almost impossible to find female discaholics interested in that music. And look at a record fair… do you see all women queuing up? It is depressing.

“It has gotten a bit better the last years… but it is far from being equal,” he continues. “We believed that the interviews included are of a huge interest, all ten of them – and we decided to publish them as is. For the Discaholics Volume 2 (to be published in fall 2018) – there will be discaholics from many other genres of music interviewed, and of course more women involved.”

The book features a fair bit of comparing sizes. So how does his own collection measure up? “Discaholics usually don't answers in actual numbers,” he says cryptically. “It is about 2.5 tonnes... or a bit more then 50 metres of LPs... and a decent amount of 7"s and 10"s…"

The book, accompanied by a bonus 7", is set to be published by Marhaug Forlag on 15 November, and includes an extensive interview with Gustafsson himself.

Fundraiser to record James Tenney's Changes: 64 Studies For 6 Harps

Adrian Tenney, the daughter of the late composer, is raising money to put Changes: 64 Studies for 6 Harps to record for the first time

Adrian Tenney has started a crowdfunding campaign to record a previously unrealised composition by James Tenney. One of several that remained unrecorded at the time of the composer's death in 2006, the piece is now destined for a debut performance on 11 November at The Box in Los Angeles, followed by a recording session a few weeks later, though money for the latter still needs to be raised.

“This performance, and the 50 hours of rehearsal time necessary for the seven artists to prepare, has already been funded, however, we still need to raise $22,000 to be able to send the musicians into the recording studio very soon after this performance. If we wait any longer to record, we will have to start from scratch, paying the artists for 50 hours of rehearsal time all over again,” confirms Adrian.

The I Ching inspired composition Changes: 64 Studies For 6 Harps was written for six harps tuned a sixth of a semitone apart, explains the fundraiser page. “Much of the piece uses a technique called hocketing which is one of the reasons the piece sounds super interesting,”

CalArts has already granted the musicians access to a free recording studio space from 23–26 November and financial contributions have already come in from SASSAS and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, however further funding is now needed for artist fees, hospitality, transport, and the mixing and mastering of the recording.

New World Records will be releasing the album in the form of a 3-CD set in 2018.

Donations are being accepted via

Music film festival starts in Berlin tonight

The festival will feature the Laibach in Pyongyang documentary Liberation Day and new hip hop anthology Tales

This November will see the first Soundwatch Berlin music themed documentary festival. Taking place from 8–25 November at Silent Green Kulturquartier and Lichtblick Cinema, the event will feature a host of films and TV series about underground music and music scenes.

First up is the documentary Liberation Day which follows Laibach as they become the first rock band to perform in Pyongyang, North Korea in 2015. Also on the programme is the first season of mockumentary sitcom about UKG pirate radio station Kurupt FM, People Just Do Nothing; and Nicole Wegner's film on US DIY Parallel Planes featuring Ian MacKaye (Fugazi), Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu), Weasel Walter (Flying Luttenbachers), Jenny Hoyston (Erase Errata), Alap Momin (Dälek) and others. Also screening will be Sex & Broadcasting about New Jersey station WFMU (which will also be followed by a panel on freeform, independent radio); Latvian documentary Era of Dance covering the Riga rave scene during the late Soviet era; Queercore: How to Punk A Revolution; and hip hop record producer Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo's scripted rap lyric anthology series Tales.

A full list of what's on can be found on the festival website.

WITCH documentary crowdfunding campaign

The film about the pioneering Zambian rock group needs a last financial push to reach the finishing line

A new film about Zamrock group WITCH (short for We Intend To Cause Havoc) tells the story of one of the biggest rock groups in Zambia in the 1970s, whose influences ranged from The Rollng Stones, Black Sabbath and James Brown to African rhythms and village song.

Called We Intend To Cause Havoc, the documentary follows the group on tour in Europe 45 years after the release of their debut album Introduction, interviewing their last surviving founder member Jagari Chanda alongside archival footage from the 1960s and 70s. Starting with WITCH’s emergence as psychedelic rockers in a newly independent Zambia, the film charts their move towards disco and how they coped in a political and financial climate that grew increasingly unstable. It also covers the death of WITCH’s other four founder members from AIDS and Chanda's turn to religion.

An Indiegogo campaign is currently underway to help fund the final stages of the film’s production. You can listen to and download the track “October Night (Live At The Moth Club)” via Soundcloud, and you can watch a trailer of We Intend To Cause Havoc below.

CTM makes first artist announcement

The 19th edition of CTM will take place from 26 January to 4 February 2018, with the first round of artists announced including Rashad Becker, Jana Rush and Nadah El Shazly

CTM has made their first artist announcement for their 19th edition of the Berlin based festival. With this year's theme marked as Turmoil, the event will be centred around the questions, “What is the sound of turmoil? What are aesthetics of tumult? What to do with such intensities? Which other sonic and musical responses could we conceive of to counter the current overload of agitation, anxiety and animosity?”

Last month CTM announced the winner of its Radio Lab commission as ZULI aka the electronic music producer from Cairo Ahmed El Ghazoly. He'll be creating a special installation and radio work that looks at the current political climate of his home city through the eyes of local people.

Other artists to perform at the event include Amenra, Cevdet Erek, Darkraver, DJ Panic, Rashad Becker, Pan Daijing, Ian Helliwell, Patrick Primavesi, Jace Clayton with Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner, Jana Rush, Medusa’s Bed with Lydia Lunch, Zahra Mani & Mia Zabelka, Nadah El Shazly, and Swan Meat. Installations will come from Philip Vermeulen with Boem Boem and Teun Vonk with The Physical Mind. There is also an open call for participants to this year's MusicMakers HackLab with a closing date of 30 November.

The festival will take place at HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berghain, Yaam and Festsaal Kreuzberg and there are a limited number of early bird passes on sale now.

“Whatever You Thought, Think Again” says 3hd festival

This year's event will take place from 22–25 November in Berlin

Daniela Seitz and Anja Weigl's 3hd festival is now in its third year. Running from 22–25 November at HAU Hebbel am Ufer, and OHM, as well as with various bits happening online, the programme features music, performances and art set to investigate the concept of acting outside of the status quo by working with the theme title “Whatever You Thought, Think Again.”

“Performances, panels and workshops will travel the gamut of experience and struggle — personal stories of overcoming adversity around visibility, feminism, empowerment and community — in order to be seen and heard”, explains the festival. “The emancipatory promise of art, the internet and globalisation appears to have failed us in the face of rising xenophobic populism in a backdrop of looming economic, political and ecological disaster.”

The line up includes Abyss X, AMET, Anja Kaiser, City, Cleo Kempe Towers Queen, Colin Self, Farai, Fauna, Flora Yin-Wong, Green Music, i.ruuu, Jenna Sutela, Johanna Odersky, Lyra, M.E.S.H, Magdalena Bichler, Maria Skoula, Marta Forsberg, Neo Hülcker, Petit Singe, Prince Harvey, Robin Buckley, Rui Ho, Stellan Veloce, Stud1nt, Tabita Rezaire, and UCC Harlo.

The festival will kick off with a panel titled “Craving Sustainability” and there will also be a survey called “Tell Us How You Really Feel” made in cooperation with physician and prospective psychiatrist Anna Willert. That will examine the festival audience's engagement with media and technology, their economic status, personal attitudes, and mental well-being.

You can buy tickets, watch a selection of videos and take part in the survey via their website.

AACM founder Muhal Richard Abrams has died

US pianist, composer and educator died on 29 October

Pianist, clarinetist, composer, educator and founder of the AACM Muhal Richard Abrams died on 29 October. He was 87 old.

Born in Chicago on 19 September 1930, he began studying music in 1946 at Roosevelt University. But dissatisfied with the music covered on the course, he decided to leave and teach himself how to play the piano, compose and write arrangements.

He began working in the post-bop era around Chicago, performing and writing alongside the likes of Eddie Harris, Walter ‘King’ Flemming and MJT + 3. In 1961 he started The Experimental Band, a loose workshop-type context for players on the South Side to find new ways of working. Roscoe Mitchell came into the orbit of this group around 1963. In George E Lewis’s A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM And American Experimental Music, Joseph Jarman remembers that Abrams “was into herbology, astrology, painting, all this mystical stuff,” and he and his wife Peggy opened their basement apartment into a forum where “young musicians [could] explore musical, cultural, political, social and spiritual ideas”.

It was from this mileu that the game changing Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and, later, the Art Ensemble Of Chicago sprang. Abrams founded the AACM, along with Jodie Christian, Steve McCall and Phil Cohran, in 1965, with Abrams as the first president. The organisation, which was quickly awarded non-profit status, was dedicated to nurturing and supporting original music, and would see Abrams mentoring and working with a wide range of members such as Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, George Lewis and others. They also founded a youth music education programme. Abrams's 1968 debut album Levels And Degrees Of Light, alongside Roscoe Mitchell’s 1967 debut Sound, was a key document in introducing the jazz world to the AACM and the Chicago scene, and Abrams appeared on albums by Anthony Braxton and Joseph Jarman the same year (still credited at that time as Richard Abrams). The title of a 1975 album, Things To Come From Those Now Gone, exemplified a lifetime’s belief that education and historical study could help push music into the future.

In the late 1970s he moved to New York where he became involved in the loft jazz scene. He formed a crucial relationship with the Italian label Black Saint records around this time, and in 1983 founded the AACM New York City chapter. He continued to record regularly while in New York, blurring the lines between jazz, composition and free music. His 1989 album The Hearing Suite, with an 18 piece orchestra, was described by Andy Hamilton (The Wire 350) as one which “stands as the summit of his achievement as a jazz composer”. Albums became less frequent in the 2000s, but 2001’s Visibility Of Thought, released on Thomas Buckner’s Mutable Music label, was the first recording of his chamber compositions, and a 2007 release Vision Towards Essence presented three lengthy piano improvisations. His final album as leader was 2011’s SoundDance, with George Lewis and Fred Anderson. In 2010 Abram was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by New York City's Vision Festival. He died at his home in Manhattan.

Phew makes album from nothing but her voice

The Japanese punk pioneer turned analogue electronics improvisor pushes her vocal cords to extremes on Voice Hardcore

Japanese musician Phew has just released a new album on her own BeReKeT imprint. Called Voice Hardcore, the music is made entirely out of her own vocals – edited, treated and reworked into a nine track suite.

“This album is an attempt to make a new reverberation that I have never heard before by using only my body,” explains Phew on Facebook. “To test these things, I needed a private environment.” And so Phew found herself working on and recording the whole album in her room with an effector pedal and the same headset mic she uses in her live shows. It was then mixed and mastered by Hiroyuki Nagashima.

“I thought that I could make an album with only voice after I recorded my first solo single “Finale” in 1980,” states Phew, discussing the thought processes behind her new record. “When I dubbed my voice, a completely different world emerged that can not be described in the context of melody, harmony, rhythm, acoustic technology... It made me think that I could draw a picture by voice.

“Of course, I have not been thinking about it for 37 years! Every time I make a recording or play a live gig, that idea has been updated through the erasure method. For example, at one time, my throat rang accidentally during the live show. My body has found a stable way of outputting lower harmonics. Also, through experience I learned that I could train myself to listen to complicated melodies and to high-pitched voices that I could not put out when I started singing.

“It is simply nice to be able to do what I could not do before,” she continues. “This idea has been warming for a long time. But what inspired me directly to start producing this album was that I lost my physical condition during touring this year. I could not carry heavy equipment and it was difficult to set up, so I asked myself whether I could just make music with my own body.”

Phew’s Voice Hardcore is released on 1 November in Japan. It follows her Light Sleep analogue electronics LP, which was released by New York label Mesh-Key earlier this year. That same label also has plans to release the vinyl edition of Voice Hardcore in January 2018.