The Wire


Abyss X launches Greek festival Nature Loves Courage

Intimate weekend affair with 350 capacity

Nature Loves Courage is a new festival put on by Greek electronic producer Abyss X. Based in the south of Crete, it take its name from American ethnobotanist and mystic Terence McKenna, whose recordings Abyss X has used multiple times in DJ sets.

It's set to be an intimate experience, taking place at Fortuna Club, close to the beach in Sougia Bay. Tickets are limited to 350 and clothing is optional. Guests will have the day to explore the area and take part in other activities, while the evening will host a line up featuring Aurora Halal, Juliana Huxtable, DEBONAIR, Nkisi, Rabit, Ziúr, Gabber Eleganza, DJ Paypal, Aquarian, Kilbourne, and Abyss X, with more to be announced.

“It is important to introduce this part of the world to an audience with a curious mind whose visit on the island operates beyond the sole purpose of tourism and leisure”, Abyss X says.

It will take place from 7–9 June 2019. Early bird passes 45€.

Berberian Sound Studio adapted for stage

The play will be performed between 8 February and 30 March at central London theatre Donmar Warehouse

Peter Strickland’s surreal thriller, the 2012 film Berberian Sound Studio has been adapted for the stage by Joel Horwood and Director Tom Scutt. Based on the original motion picture screenplay, a sound engineer swaps the foley table in his garden shed for the Berberian Sound Studio in a plot that has him making sound effects for an Italian giallo film. But the lines between fiction and reality blur. Among the actors taking to the stage is Loré Lixenberg. It will run between 8 February and 30 March at Donmar Warehouse.

The Wire takeover at Bleep X

This January we'll be hosting a selection of events at the Dalston record shop. Featuring Steven Rutter, Shabaka Hutchings, The Rolling Calf trio, Nkisi and others

Starting on 12 January, The Wire will run a weeklong series of special events at the new pop-up store Bleep X. Located in East London, the store opened its doors back in November 2018 and has since hosted a selection of late night gigs, DJ sets and merch specials with the likes of Chris Carter, Apron Records, Aphex Twin, and Brainfeeder.

For The Wire takeover, Steven Rutter of B12 will be talking to Derek Walmlsey and performing live in store on 12 January from 6pm, and a Q&A with Shabaka Hutchings will happen on 13 January at 1pm. Following that, between 15 and 18 January The Wire will be in store between 6-9pm for the following events: an Invisible Jukebox with Mike Paradinas and Lara Rix-Martin of Planet Mu and Objects Limited respectively, hosted by Joseph Stannard (15), Keith Moliné discusses Autechre's remix work (16), The Rolling Calf trio featuring Elaine Mitchener, Jason Yarde & Neil Charles will perform live (17), and Meg Woof hosts a talk with Nkisi (18).

All events are free. More information can be found on the Facebook events page.

Mathematician and early minimalist composer Dennis Johnson has died

Inspiring La Monte Young's The Well-Tuned Piano, November was written for solo piano in 1959

Dennis Johnson died on 20 December 2018. Writing to Mark Harwood of Penultimate Press, the label that co-released, with Irritable Hedgehog, R Andrew Lee's performance of Johnson's groundbreaking composition November, Johnson's family said, "Denny climbed his last mountain today at noon. No ropes. No protection. No more limits."

Johnson was born in LA on 19 November 1938. In 1959 Johnson was at UCLA studying music alongside La Monte Young and Terry Jennings. It was there that Johnson would perform November, the piece that Young would credit for inspiring his famed The Well-Tuned Piano, written five years later in 1964. Although quite possibly the first record of a minimalist composition, Johnson's November was not transcribed until over three decades later. The piece, Johnson recalls in an interview with Clive Bell, was the fruit of a practice session on Jennings's grand piano, and nurtured in the practice rooms at UCLA. “I would just sit down at the piano and diddle, and listen, and it would slowly grow, like out of a seed”, he explained.

For years, November only existed in the form a 100 minute long cassette that was noisy, warped and featured a barking family dog. Kyle Gann penned the score from the original recording in 1992, with the help of a partial score that Johnson wrote in the 1980s. The outcome, performed in 2013 by pianist R Andrew Lee, requires several pages of improvisation.

Later he would write a another piece titled The Second Machine, but in 1966 he would stop composition for another major passion, geometry.

“There was some kind of a rift between me and La Monte”, Johnson explained to Bell. “He moved to New York at some point, and that was an ideal environment for him. It took me some time to go over there, and he was established by that time, and he had been writing. By this time I had sort of fallen away from the music, and was studying mathematics. I even tried to get him and his wife [Marian Zazeela] to learn things about geometry (laughs). They tried, but we had to give up! I thought it was such a beautiful thing, the beauty in geometry.”

Johnson would come to work at the NASA-affiliated Caltech research university in Pasadena. He contributed to the engineering of robots for a space probe to Mars.

Eric Pinoit, who is in the process of writing a documentary The Mystery Of All The Unknown Rivers, about Johnson and the beginnings of minimalism in music, tells of his “love affair with the rivers”, with the greatest passion for rock climbing and kayaking.

Johnson would continue to play piano and improvise during the 1980s and 1990s. In his later years he lived alone in Kensington, CA. He died at Pacific Hills Manor nursing home in Morgan Hill, California. He had been diagnosed with dementia.

Henry Threadgill premieres Pathways

The new composition was commissioned for Creative Fusion: Composers Series at Cleveland Museum of Art

Henry Threadgill’s band Zooid will be joined by a six-piece chamber ensemble to perform his concert length piece Pathways, premiered at Cleveland Museum of Art on 11 January. The date marks the launch of the museum’s Creative Fusion: Composers Series of six new commissions to be performed over the next two years.

Under its Director of Performing Arts Tom Welsh, Creative Fusion invites composers to visit the space, get to know the city and draw inspiration from the museum’s collection. The other composers in the series are Luciano Chessa, Cenk Ergün, Aya Nishina, Sophie Nzayisenga and Aleksandra Vrebalov.

Mississippi Records hit the road

The US label’s travelling show addresses the history of recorded music

Mississippi Records is taking to the road to deliver A Cosmic And Earthly History Of Recorded Music According To Mississippi Records – a lecture, film and slideshow event attempting to tell the story of recorded music in just 90 minutes. Previously featured at The Wire's Off The Page festival in Bristol in 2014, it's presented by the label’s founder Eric Isaacson, and includes unseen film clips from the imprint’s archives, DJ sets by Golden Wilson of Olvido Records, and a Mississippi Records merch table selling more than 30 titles (while stocks last).

The tour takes place throughout January and February. A full list of dates can be found on Mississippi Records' website.

Radiophrenia launch open call for sound and radio works

The series goes live on FM and online from Glasgow from 13–26 May

Glasgow's artist led pop up radio station Radiophrenia has published its 2019 open call for sound and other transmission artworks.

“We are seeking soundscapes, spoken word pieces, radio experiments, found sound, innovative approaches to drama and documentary, and radical and challenging new programme ideas,” says the station announcement. “The call is open to artists, musicians and producers at any career stage. It is intended primarily for existing works. Local artists may also propose live shows or performances that will take place in the studio.”

The station will take up residence in Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts in May, with a broadcasting schedule including live shows, pre-recorded features and a selection of on air performances. Its four categories for submission are documentaries, radio plays, soundscapes and features of 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes in duration

Deadline for submissions is 17 February. More information is available on Radiophrenia’s website, and you can listen to previous years on Soundcloud. The station will be broadcasting from 13–26 May.

First artists confirmed for Sonic Acts 2019

Early Bird tickets are on sale now

Sonic Acts have announced their first selection of artists to appear at their 2019 edition. Hoping to reflect on the rapid changes in the cultural and artistic relationship with technology, the event is curated with the theme Hereafter. 2019 also celebrates the festival's 25 year anniversary.

Confirmed so far are Ramon Amaro, Thomas Ankersmit, Ephraim Asili, Rosi Braidotti, Filipa César, Jodi Dean, Flavia Dzodan, Hugo Esquinca, Christina Kubisch, Okkyung Lee, Yantan Ministry, Jin Mustafa, DJ Nervoso, BJ Nilsen, Áine O’Dwyer, Lee Patterson, Nina Pixel, Elizabeth Povinelli, Irit Rogoff, Divoli S’vere, M.C. Schmidt, Gregory Sholette, Petit Singe, Slikback, Streifenjunko, SUUTOO, Verdensteatret, Vilde&Inga, Jennifer Walshe and Ji Youn Kang.

It will run between 21 and 24 February across various locations in Amsterdam, including Paradiso, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, De Brakke Grond, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Bimhuis, OT301 and Arti et Amicitiae. A limited number of Early Bird festival passes are available until 31 December for €80 (€70 for students) plus processing fees.

Geri Allen archival recordings released by Howard University

New CD pays tribute to the late pianist

One year after Geri Allen died of cancer aged 60, Washington, DC’s Howard University Jazz Ensemble under the longtime direction of Professor Fred Irby III have released a tribute album to the pianist.

Aptly titled A Tribute To Geri Allen, it includes three archival recordings dated 1977, 1978 and 1979 of the then undergraduate Allen performing her compositions with the large ensemble. The CD also includes seven tracks of the present-day group.

Irby told the non-profit jazz organisation CapitalBop that he “felt he ‘had to do something’ to memorialise his one-time student”. “Irby,” CapitalBop’s Jackson Sinnenberg goes on to explain, “was the one who recruited Allen to come to Howard in 1975, and remembered her being ‘very smart and super talented. All the musicians at the university respected her.’”

CapitalBop has also shared the track “For Real Moments”.

For copies of A Tribute To Geri Allen on CD you need to contact Professor Fred Irby at

Perry Robinson dies at the age of 80

US clarinettist and composer passed away on 2 December

US free jazz clarinetist Perry Robinson has died aged 80. Born in New York in 1938, Robinson was the son of composer Earl Robinson. During his childhood, regular house guests included Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Leonard Bernstein. Another was Woody Guthrie, who, as Phillip Clark relays in The Wire 236, would recognise Robinson's creative nature, writing him letters to feed his growing curiosity in music and the arts.

“What my dad, Pete and Leadbelly taught me was to have a free mind,” Robinson told Clark. “They wanted to live in a more inclusive America and when I came across free music, I already had a mind that was open to accept it. That’s why folk and free are the same. I’d take my dad to loft sessions and once he realised he could play what he felt in an intuitive way, he got into out music. ‘Now I understand,’ he told me.”

In the late 1950s, Robinson studied at the Lenox School of Jazz in Massachusetts. Early on in his career he would work with pianist Tete Montoliu, and later go on to work with the likes of Henry Grimes, Bill Dixon, Carla Bley, Archie Shepp, Charlie Haden, Gunter Hampel, Badal Roy, John Carter, Anthony Braxton, Pete Seeger, George Clinton and many others. He would work as part of Burton Greene’s Klezmokum and of Lou Grassi’s Po Band, and was also a member of Clarinet Contrast, with Theo Jörgensmann and Bernd Konrad.

Robinson's debut album Funk Dumpling was released in 1962 and featured Kenny Barron, Henry Grimes and Paul Motian. He also appeared with Grimes 1965 recording The Call. In 1967 he appeared on Archie Shepp's Impulse! set Mama Too Tight, and it was around that time that he would record as The Uni Trio with David Izenzon on double bass and Randy Kaye on drums.

“In The Uni Trio,” he told Philip Clark, “we’d try and play time but also no time. We would play compositions and tunes but let the phrasing of the melodies determine the pulse. One note in a melody might seem more prominent, so I’d hold it for longer and the pulse would change – time and no time, you see? I also got into what I call ‘automatic writing’. I’d hold my pencil and let it make dots on the manuscript paper. Strange little melodies would appear, and a whole other melodic thing would flow through my mind. My tune, “Unisphere”, appeared in this way and automatic writing changed the way I think about composition.”

In 1990 he released Call To The Stars with his Perry Robinson Quartet, featuring a composition by Grimes, alongside bassist Ed Schuller, pianist Simon Nabotov and drummer Ernst Bier. His Raga Roni trio with Badal Roy and Ed Schuller released their self-titled debut in 2002 on Geetika Records, a year that also saw him appear with William Parker’s clarinet trio on Bob's Pink Cadillac on the Eremite label, and publish an autobiography The Traveler, co-authored by Florence F Wetzel. You can read Philip Clark's article in The Wire 236 via Exact Editions.