The Wire


Tim Smith of Cardiacs needs help with healthcare costs

The multi-instrumentalist and vocalist talks about the rare condition he has been suffering from since his full cardiac arrest some ten years ago

Cardiacs frontman Tim Smith has opened up about the dystonia that has affected his ability to move and speak since he suffered a full cardiac arrest almost a decade ago. Though he has responded well to treatment of his condition, funding shortfalls and bureaucracy has meant his rehabilitation from this rare disorder has ground to a halt. In December he was also informed that due to recent changes in Continued Health Care, he can no longer stay at his current care home, where he was set to receive a new type of treatment. “The only way I can try and let you know how I feel at the moment,” Smith says, “is, imagine if you were wearing a skintight bodysuit made of fishnet all around you with electrical pulses going all the fucking time. This is what my body feels like unless I fall asleep.” You can read the full story about his state of health at the Cardiacs website.

Tim and his family are now hoping to raise £100,000 to cover the costs of continuing his healthcare in the absence of governmental funding. The money will hopefully secure his place in his current healthcare unit. At the time of writing just over £60,000 has already been raised via Just Giving.

Roswell Rudd died on 22 December

The trombonist who worked with Henry Grimes, Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, and many others, died aged 82

Trombonist and composer Roswell Rudd died on 22 December aged 82. He was born in Sharon, Connecticut and studied at Yale University, where he played in a Dixieland group. In New York he played with pianist Herbie Nichols, and joined a quartet with Steve Lacy, Henry Grimes and Dennis Charles, playing the music of Thelonious Monk. Rudd was a founding member of the free jazz ensemble New York Art Quartet, who formed in 1964 and whose members included John Tchicai, Milford Graves, Lewis Worrell, Reggie Workman and Finn Von Eyben. He also worked with Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, and many more, performing with poets such as Amiri Baraka and assisting US ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax with various projects. He later went on to teach ethnomusicology.

Octavia Butler's Parable Of The Sower opera hits the stage in New York

Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon's production runs until 15 January

A new opera based on Octavia Butler’s 1993 novel Parable Of The Sower has opened in New York. Composed by Toshi Reagon and her mother, the vocalist and activist Bernice Johnson Reagon, the opera makes use of 15 singers plus a five-piece orchestra. Toshi describes the work as an “unprecedented intersection of science fiction, opera, African-American art and spirituality, feminism, and climate activism”. The opera has been supported by a Kickstarter campaign that raised its $30,000 goal in November, financing rehearsal fees, PR and a touring fund.

Parable Of The Sower was the first book in a two part series. Set in 2024 it follows the story of a woman named Lauren Oya Olamina and the development of a belief system she calls Earthseed. Discussing Parable with io9, Reagan says that although the work is best thought of as an opera, “the show’s music includes elements of multiple genres including blues, EDM and gospel”.

Parable Of The Sower runs until 15 January at New York Newman theater.

Houndstooth announces TS Eliot inspired compilation

In Death's Dream Kingdom features 25 tracks inspired by Eliot’s The Hollow Men

London electronic label Houndstooth is releasing a new compilation consisting of 25 new tracks. Artists were asked to compose a track inspired by the phrase “in death's dream kingdom” taken from the TS Eliot's 1925 poem The Hollow Men. Artists featured on the compilation are: Otto Lindholm, Pan Daijing, Lanark Artefax, Petit Singe, Peder Mannerfelt, Tomoko Sauvage, Pye Corner Audio, Sophia Loizou, Abul Mogard, Par Grindvik, Koenraad Ecker, Roly Porter, Hodge, Gazelle Twin, Shapednoise, ASC, Batu, We Will Fail, Peter Van Hoesen, Spatial, Yves De Mey, Mindspan, Kangding Ray, ZOV ZOV and Ian William Craig.

The selection was compiled by Rob Butterworth and Rob Booth, also responsible for the 111 track #savefabric compilation released last year in response to the threat of permanent closure for London's legendary club. The tracks will be made available to stream one-by-one (at a rate of two a day, Monday to Friday) with online texts, and artwork by Jazz Szu-Ying Chen. The full compilation will be released digitally on 26 January. Listen to the first track “Cain” from Otto Lindholm below.

New book about Kingston's Alpha Boys' School has been published

Heather Augustyn and Adam Reeves write about the famed Roman Catholic boarding school and its music department whose alumni include Dizzy Reece, Winston Foster aka Yellowman, and four of the Skatalites' founding members

A new book about the impact of Kingston’s famed Roman Catholic boarding school Alpha Boys' School, the institution that spawned many of Jamaica’s great jazz, ska and reggae musicians, has been published. Written by Heather Augustyn and Adam Reeves and titled Alpha Boys' School: Cradle Of Jamaican Music, it's one of the first in-depth studies of the school and the students who passed through its gates, and tells the story of Sister Mary Ignatius, the nun who ran the music department at the school for 64 years. Some of its alumni include Dizzy Reece, Cedric Brooks and the Skatalites's Tommy McCook, Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore, Lester Sterling and Don Drummond. In 2014 the school residence closed down and the Alpha Institute took its place, providing vocational training for inner city youth.

The book is published by Half Pint Press, available via Amazon.

Sonic Acts Academy 2018 takes place this February

The line up include Catherine Christer Hennix, Christina Kubisch and Moor Mother

Sonic Acts Academy 2018 will take place from 23–25 February across various locations in Amsterdam, including Dansmakers and Paradiso Noord – Tolhuistuin.

“Today, more than ever, it is necessary to address the function of art and the artist and to expand the conversation to include the processes of the ‘decolonisation of thought’ – certainly one of the most critical factors in artistic practices today,” say the festival organisers. “Together, we need to rethink how education can again become a tool for discovery and growth, for development and emancipation, and not just a machine that disseminates dominant modes of thinking.”

With the programme featuring workshops, seminars, lectures, performances and screenings, the line up will include Ane Hjort Guttu, Ase Manual, Catherine Christer Hennix, Charmaine Chua, Christina Kubisch, Cocky Eek, Daniel Mann, DJ Haram, DJ Lycox, Dreamcrusher, Drippin, Filipa César, Geng, Wire contributor Jennifer Lucy Allan, Jennifer Walshe, Kilbourne, Lorenzo Pezzani, Marija Bozinovska Jones, Mario de Vega, Martijn van Boven, Moor Mother, Nicole Hewitt, Nora Sternfeld, Renske Maria van Dam, Rick Dolphijn, Roc Jiménez de Cisneros, Sasha Litvintseva, Solveig Suess, Susan Schuppli, Swan Meat, and Violence, with more still to be announced. A retrospective exhibition of the works of Swedish artist Catherine Christer Hennix will also take place at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam from 9 February, and on 20 February the film Spell Reel, about the birth of Guinean cinema, will screen at EYE alongside a Q&A with director Filipa César.

Tickets for Sonic Acts are on sale now, priced at €55.07 – €67.94.


Lisbon to host Unearthing The Music: Creative Sound and Experimentation under European Totalitarianism

Two days of talks, concerts and film screenings to take place this February

OUT.RA is hosting a two day event at the Goethe Institut in Lisbon, signalling the end of its Unearthing the Music project which has been collecting materials related to experimental music-making in the countries behind the so-called Iron Curtain between 1957 and 1989.

Speakers will include journalist and author Alexander Pehlemann; the curator and co-founder of the Easterndaze project Lucia Udvardyová; museum curator Daniel Muzyczuk; musician and Points East label editor Chris Cutler, and The Wire Editor-in-Chief Chris Bohn. Scheduled to play are Robert and Ronald Lippok (of To Rococo Rot fame) as Ornament & Verbrechen and Russian musician Alexei Borisov. The event will also host film screenings such as 15 Corners Of The World about Eugeniusz Rudnik of the Polish Radio Experimental Studio, and Elektro Moskva, about the evolution of electronic music in the former USSR.

The even will take place from 15–16 February. Admission is free. You can read a host of articles surrounding the topic, by Chris Bohn, Mike Zwerin, Ian MacDonald and others, over at

Bristol’s Young Echo collective releases second LP

The ever expanding network of 11 artists, among them Kahn, Neek, Ishan Sound, Rider Shafique and Jasmine, deals in “shapeshifting anarchy which rears its head when no one idea can rule”

Young Echo have returned with their second LP in just under five years. Simply titled Young Echo, the 24 track set draws on the extended networks and numerous projects the collective’s members have been working on since YE01. The collective’s core acts consist of Jabu, Vessel, Kahn, Neek, Ishan Sound, Ossia, Manonmars, Bogues, Rider Shafique, chester giles and Jasmine, and projects featured on the release also include Bandulu, FuckPunk, O$VMV$M, Gorgon Sound and ASDA. But the album should not to be judged by any one group or artist. “It is most effective as a whole, simply titled Young Echo,” they insist. “Of course each of the artists has an important part to play, but it is very much about the act of balance, accepting individualism to form a greater whole.”

The album is spread across two 180 gm discs housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by members and affiliates. First copies will be available at the album launch on 1 February at Bristol Trinity Centre, but its official release date is 16 February. Young Echo appeared alongside Livity Sound on the cover of The Wire 355.

You can listen to the track “Untitled” below.

Earth Recordings release The Ballad Of Shirley Collins OST

The documentary about the legendary English folk singer had its London premiere in October 2017

Earth Recordings are set to release The Ballad Of Shirley Collins original soundtrack album in March. The documentary about the English folk singer premiered at London Film festival at the end of last year. The film, in part the product of a Kickstarter campaign begun by Burning Bridges & Fifth Column Films back in 2011, coincided with Collins’s return to recording – in 2016 she released her first album in 38 years. The soundtrack features previously unreleased recordings from her 1959 trip around America's Deep South with her then partner, the US folklorist Alan Lomax, including contributions from Alabama Sacred Harp Association, Texas Gladden and Sidney Hemphill Carter. It also features a home recording of Shirley's late sister Dolly Collins, two BBC session tracks made in 1958, plus live audio footage captured in the making of the documentary.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins will be pressed as a limited edition pink vinyl LP set, and if you're in the UK you can also pick up a DVD + CD package of the documentary and soundtrack, with added extras of deleted scenes, audio commentary, behind the scenes footage, an unreleased short film by its directors Rob Curry and Tim Plester, and some bonus tracks.

Screenings of the film are still happening across the UK. The full documentary will also be available to stream in the UK for 20 days via Lush Player from 20 January.

The Ballad Of Shirley Collins is released on 23 March by Earth Recordings. You can listen to Ruby Vass's “Single Girl, Married Girl” below.

Rob Young reviewed The Ballad Of Shirley Collins in The Wire 405. Collins was also the cover star of The Wire 395. Subscribers can read both the review and the cover feature via Exact Editions.

Director Jake Meginsky makes new Milford Graves documentary

Milford Graves Full Mantis will premiere on 27 January; a Kickstarter campaign has also been launched to help with the costs of post-production

Director Jake Meginsky has made a documentary about US drummer and avant garde pioneer Milford Graves. Meginsky filmed Graves in his back garden martial arts dojo and basement sound laboratory, both housed in the artist’s current home based just a few blocks away from the housing projects of the South Jamaica in the New York suburb of Queens where he grew up. The film also includes never before seen archive material and performance footage spanning five decades, as well as unreleased electronic music from the musician, who has worked with Albert Ayler, Giuseppi Logan, Sonny Sharrock and John Zorn, among many other artists.

A student of Milford Graves, Meginsky began filming his teacher and digitising his personal archive back in 2004, with his co-director, Massachusetts drummer Neil Young, joining the project in 2015. Milford Graves Full Mantis “enters into and emerges from its subject in a spectral, twining way”, writes The Wire contributor Matt Krefting, who adds that it “takes up the challenge of Graves’s art and, like the many devices he’s used (hands, wind, sticks, brushes, etc) to activate the surfaces of his many instruments (drum heads, vocal cords, the heart-ribcage-flesh apparatus of the chest, etc), it dances upon membranes”.

Milford Graves with butoh dancer Min Tanaka at the School for Autism

The film premieres at IFFR International Film Festival Rotterdam on 27 January as part of its Perspectives, Pan-African Cinema Today (PACT) programme, where Graves will also perform solo. There will be a second showing on 29 January. In the meantime, a Kickstarter campaign has been set up to help with the cost of post-production and future international screenings of the film. You can watch the trailer below.