The Wire


The return of The Wire Salon

After a four year hiatus, The Wire Salon returns to Cafe Oto on 16 July for a talk with photographer, author and black music historian Val Wilmer.

A familiar name to regular readers of The Wire (she has been a contributor to the magazine since issue one), Val has been reporting on black music and the musicians who make it in the US and the UK since the early 1960s – the list of musicians she has interviewed and photographed over the years reads like a roll call of the most influential figures in jazz, blues and R&B: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Howling Wolf, Aretha Franklin, Fela Kuti and many more.

A meticulous journalist, her writing has always combined a historian's concern for reporting the facts and a political agenda informed by her early contacts with black musicians and the emerging civil rights movement. Likewise, her portrait photography is reportage based, depicting musicians in informal, domestic or communal settings, emphasising the social dynamics that underpin their lives and music.

In the 1970s and 80s she became active in the women's movement, writing about the experiences of women in the music industry, and co-founding Format, the UK's first all-women photographers' agency. Her books include Jazz People (1970), The Face Of Black Music (1976), As Serious As Your Life: The Story Of The New Jazz (1977), and the autobiography Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This: My Life In The Jazz World (1989).

For this edition of The Wire Salon, Val has selected a number of photos from her personal archive, which will be projected during the talk and used as entry points to discuss her long and remarkable life in music, photography, politics and beyond. The talk will be hosted by Tony Herrington, while DJ Derek Walmsley will top and tail the night playing a mix of hard bop, soul jazz, free jazz and more.

The Wire Salon: An Audience With Val Wilmer takes place at London Cafe Oto, 16 July, 7.30pm.

New Sublime Frequencies book presents the photographs and career of Charles Duvelle

Renowned Ocora recordist talks to Hisham Mayet about his extensive work in West Africa, South East Asia and beyond

Two giants of field recording and global music come together in a new Sublime Frequencies book, The Photographs Of Charles Duvelle: Disques Ocora And Collection Prophet. Duvelle is a composer, recordist and photographer who ran (and undertook numerous expeditions for) the famous French label Ocora, which evolved out of the Radiodiffusion De La France D’Outre-Mer, a colonial broadcasting project begun by Pierre Schaeffer in the mid-1950s.

"I discovered a lot of tapes," Duvelle recalls in the book of his first encounter with the RFOM archive in the late 1950s. "Music, too. Very badly recorded, but to me completely new and full of originality. This was real modern music! This was my real discovery of the world’s contemporary music, and not only that of the Western world."

Duvelle began recording music outside of Europe on a trip to Niger in the early 60s. Though he was accustomed to recording classical and jazz music, he had to quickly learn how to best record African musicians. He found ingenious ways to document performances and social gatherings, such as setting up sessions outside in places sheltered from the wind, and moving the microphone around during the recording, almost acting as a performer himself.

His early work coincided with that of the French ethnographic film maker Jean Rouch, who likewise prioritised mobility and flexibility over preparation and staging in his documentaries. Duvelle's recording work – a two minute excerpt of West African percussion – was even included by Carl Sagan on the famous Voyager Golden Record.

Ocora's catalogue today runs to more than 600 recordings, scores of them made by Duvelle in his 15 year tenure at the label, and it has become renowned for its quality sound and scholarly dedication to presenting music from beyond Europe. After leaving Ocora, Duvelle has recorded his own music extensively, and later worked on the Prophet series for Philips, which once again extensively documented African music.

Duvelle also took extensive photographs during his expeditions, which form the basis of this new book. It includes more than 200 photos of musicians and people from West Africa to South East Asia and the Pacific from the late 50s to the late 70s, and it's accompanied by two CDs of recordings taken from the many discs he made.

The set includes an extensive interview with Duvelle conducted by Hisham Mayet, who has recorded and compiled numerous groundbreaking albums for the US 'punk ethnography' label Sublime Frequencies. The interview discusses the colonial context of Ocora's work, which propogated the idea of 'co-operation', but which also aimed to bolster the idea of a unified French culture for the new Francophone African audience, as well as the myriad problems of the term 'ethnographic'. The book also includes extensive discographies and recording notes and musician credits.

The Photographs Of Charles Duvelle: Disques Ocora And Collection Prophet is published by Sublime Frequencies.

Baba Yaga's Hut presents two consecutive Wire 400 events

The London promoters will host Melt-Banana at The Garage followed by Zu at London Fields Brewhouse

The Wire has teamed up with Baba Yaga's Hut to continue a series of special London events celebrating the 400th issue of the magazine. On 15 June Japanese noise rock duo Melt-Banana will play alongside London band Ghold at The Garage in Highbury & Islington. The following evening on 16 June instrumental acts Zu, Tomaga & Pierre Bastien and Jessica Moss will all perform at London Fields Brewhouse.

Tickets are available via the Baba Yaga's Hut website.

Subscribers to The Wire's weekly newsletter can enter a competition to win tickets for each show.

TUSK returns to Sage Gateshead in October 2017

The annual festival will stage its seventh edition with another diverse line-up

From 13-15 October, TUSK will take place at its habitual venue in the North East of England. The roster so far includes a UK debut appearance from Swedish punk band Brainbombs, as well as performances from London producers Klein and Beatrice Dillon, French field recordist Kink Gong, Californian duo Hans Grusel's Krankenkabinet, Russian post folk collective Staraya Derevnya, Scottish band Shareholder and sound manipulator Èlg, with more live music yet to be announced.

The festival will also host talks, films, exhibitions and after parties over the course of the weekend. Tickets are available from 16 June via Sage Gateshead box office with 50 Early Bird passes offered at £45, full weekend passes at £55, and day tickets at £20.

Campaign to rescue Peruvian chicha music

Directed by Jalo Nuñez Del Prado, the project seeks the “the rescue, comeback and re-appreciation” of the Discos Horóscopo catalogue

A campaign is underway to reissue some back catalogue albums from Peruvian chicha label Discos Horóscopo. Originally released in the 1970s and 80s, the ten albums are marked by the project's director Jalo Nuñez Del Prado as some of the most important albums of their time, and are set to be made available internationally.

Chicha or Peruvian cumbia, a subgenre of cumbia, was a response to the marginalisation of migrant groups who fused various traditional music from the Andes with American psychedelic, Cuban guaracha, Colombian cumbia and other forms.

“Peruvian chicha music was born and exploded from the chaotic political context of the 80s. At the time, Peru was suffering from devastating economic inflation and terrorism, forcing Andean populations to migrate to a cruel and unwelcoming capital”, explains the fundraising page. “Until this day, despite being undervalued and stigmatized, chicha music continues to have a strong sociocultural impact in the lives of working class Peruvians.”

The project is already underway but it's now looking for a further 40,000 Euros for production of the first five of the ten albums. For more information you can visit the Indiegogo page.

Watch a video featuring the project directed by Jalo Nuñez Del Prado

Beating Heart returns with South African field recording remixes

The dance tracks feature archival material from the major Hugh Tracey archive collection at ILAM

Beating Heart has returned with another charity sound archive compilation. Following on from last year's Malawi album, which had producers making new tracks from field recordings from the area, the next in the series will focus on South Africa with a four track EP to start with and a host of remix tracks too. Working with the Hugh Tracey archive at ILAM, the largest archive of African field recordings, featuring thousands of recordings compiled between the 1920s and 1970s across 18 Sub-Saharan countries. South Africa Volumes 1 - 5 will be released this summer, featuring artists including Coen, DJ Khaleb, Auntie Flo, Das Kapital and others.

Profits will be used to support the Women's Legal Centre, who work for gender equality across South Africa, and the AMP music school in Grahamstown where students will be able to learn production skills through remixing field recordings from the ILAM archive and earning about their heritage.

Watch a video about the first Malawi release

Blank Forms announce in-house journal Magazine

NYC curator and promoter launches new publication following its first year of operations

Curator and promoter Blank Forms has announced a new print publication surveying avant garde and underground figures inspired by their current events programme. Magazine is the first edition of the journal of the New York organisation, founded in 2016 by former ISSUE Project Room Artistic Director Lawrence Kumpf, with pieces on and by musicians including Joe McPhee, Bruce Russell, Éliane Radigue and François Bonnet (aka Kassel Jaeger).

"It's called a magazine but it's more of a book in its actual format," says Kumpf. "The idea of Magazine is appealing because it can have a looser more propositional structure for grouping things together." The first issue, which is over two hundred pages long, includes four sections exploring the influential work of late sound artist Maryanne Amacher, plus unpublished interviews, transcriptions of talks from live events, poetry and stories, and more. Also featured are translations from Bonnet's book The Infra-World, discussion of the visual poetry of Ralston Farina, and Bruce Russell of The Dead C on the notion of 'mis-competence' in New Zealand music. Many of the documents, interviews and writings emerged or evolved out of the first year of programming at Blank Forms – "because often there isn't much information on the topic out there," Kumpf reports.

"For the next issue we wouldn't necessarily stick to this format," he says, "or the structure (referring to our past programming) – but will keep it as an open format and platform for interesting ideas and documents that we come across in our work."

Magazine is edited by Lawrence Kumpf and Joe Bucciero, and is available from the Blank Forms website.

The Delaware Road will explore folklore and magic in a nuclear bunker this July

Musicians will perform the audio visual thriller in their own separate section for the duration of the event taking place at Kelvedon Hatch in Essex

Buried Treasure will present a live performance of The Delaware Road this July. Described by Buried Treasure as “an occult conspiracy thriller and an audio-visual treat for fans of archived electronica, far out jazz and haunted folk grooves chronicling the musician's obsession with sound, sex & magic”, the album compilationThe Delaware Road will be subject of the event that will take place this year at Kelvedon Hatch nuclear bunker in Essex.

The line up features Dolly Dolly, Teleplasmiste, DJ Food, Concretism, Howlround, Ian Helliwell, Loose Capacitor, Radionics Radio, The Twelve Hour Foundation, Simon James, and Glitch, Sanders & Hill. Each performer will play continuously in their own section of the bunker for the duration of the night.

The Delaware Road will take place 28 July, at 6.30 pm. Tickets are available now, and can include a shuttle bus journey from Brentwood train station.

Continuing our 400th issue celebrations with an exclusive Bleep x Wire T-shirt, Diamanda Galás performance and more

In celebration of 400 issues of The Wire, we've teamed up with Bleep to design a limited edition T-shirt, on sale now

This month we continue our 400th issue celebrations by hooking up with more Wire-friendly promoters, venues and festivals to co-present a further series of Wire 400 live shows. See the Wire 400 listing on our website for full details of the Blurred Edges, Art Of Improvisers, Saturnalia and Terraforma festivals, as well as shows with Melt-Banana, Zu, Diamanda Galás, Aki Onda, and the High Focus label.

Our series of Wire 400 radio specials will run throughout June. Looking back on the magazine’s history and the music we’ve covered in that time, they'll be presented by The Wire’s staff on London arts radio station Resonance 104.4 FM during our weekly Adventures In Sound And Music slot – every Thursday 9–10:30pm (GMT), 104.4 FM for Londoners, or stream elsewhere.

We've also teamed up with Warp records' sister company Bleep on a special Bleep x Wire 400 T-shirt. It's grey with black and white text and comes in sizes small, medium, large and extra large. Please note it’s limited edition so it won’t be around forever. Buy one via

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Blurred Edges Festival has kicked off in Hamburg

Two week event in Hamburg is currently underway with Maria Chavez, Dominic Lash, Oval and others

Blurred Edges festival is currently taking place in Hamburg, Germany. Now in its 12th edition, the event will run at various venues until 18 June, presenting experimental composition and improvisation, field recordings, cinematic programs, performances, and exhibitions. Without any one specific curator for the event, Blurred Edges has a number of individuals and collectives creating the event, which is then coordinated by the Verband für aktuelle Musik Hamburg. This has made for an extensive 32 location,17 day festival.

Artists on the line up include Oval, Scordatura plays Harry Partch, Maria Chavez, Dominic Lash, JD Zazie, Yoni Silver, Richard VD Schulenburg, Rudi Mahall, Michael Maierhof, Bernhard Schreiner, Birgit Ulher, Nelly Boyd performing John Cage, Alexander Schubert and many more.

As well as an extensive line-up, this year's event will also see the premiere of Sound Caching, a site specific project which has its audience moving to various parts of the city in order to find hidden QR Codes. By scanning these codes, audiences are then able to listen to compositions on their smartphones.

Blurred Edges is happening now at various venues across Hamburg.