The Wire


No One's Watching raises money for local migrant support charities

Win tickets, records and more with new fundraising series that kicks off with flies+flies and Harmergeddon

A new events series gets underway this weekend at The Cause in London. The fundraising event on 2 June will donate all of its door profits to local migrant support charities, while the North London venue itself supports mental health charities Mind, CALM and Help Musicians UK.

The night “joins up some of the threads that have made the UK’s underground so arresting in recent years,” says co-founder and Precious Snowflake Records boss Tamar Shlaim, “bringing together DJs, art and live performance, with a music policy at the intersection of decadent, mutant club music, weird electronics and experimental guitar-adjacent melodics.” The line-up includes Forward Strategy Group, flies+flies, Harmergeddon, and DJ sets from DEBONAIR and TTB. The event will also feature an installation by flies+flies' Jake Williams that explores the liminal possibilities of unsecured security cameras.

To celebrate the launch they're giving away a party pack of prizes, including a pair of tickets to the event, two Repeater books (Mad Skills: MIDI And Music Technology In The 20th Century by Ryan A Diduck and Under My Thumb edited by Rhian E Jones and Eli Davies), a flies+flies Bad Crab 10" plus T-shirt, and Harmergeddon’s Both Sides Of The Conversation EP. To win, simply send an email with the subject heading No One's Watching. The winner will be selected at 6pm on 1 June.

No One's Watching will take place on 2 June at 9pm. Tickets are available via Resident Advisor.

Ryuichi Sakamoto curates new series MODE

33-33 host a month long programme put together by the Japanese composer, pianist and electronic producer

33-33 has announced a new events series curated by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Called MODE, it'll take place between 19 June and 8 July across different venues in London, and feature a mix of music, visual art, performance and film. Sakamoto will present a range of experimental artists from Japan to perform with musicians from Europe,
South America and the US.

Opening the series on 20 June will be Sakamoto himself, performing in collaboration with Alva Noto​ at the Barbican Centre on 20 June. Another performance by the artist is also promised, but yet to be announced. Yellow Magic Orchestra​ bandmate Haruomi Hosono and Acetone will also perform at Barbican on 23 June.

Also on the line up, and both at London Oslo, are Beatrice Dillon​ sharing a bill with Goat ​and Kukangendai (23 June),​ and YoshimiO​ with Susie Ibarra​ and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe​ in their trio Yunohana Variations (26). Plus on 22 June at London BFI there'll be a screening of the documentary portrait of Sakamoto, CODA​, followed by a Q&A.

As part of MODE, Goat and Kukangendai will also perform in other venues in the UK. Full details can be found on 33-33's website.

77 acts already confirmed for Le Guess Who?

Festival line-up includes Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Anoushka Shankar, Ebo Taylor, Sons Of Kemet, Beverly Glenn-Copeland and a special collaboration between Saul Williams & King Britt

The Utrecht based Le Guess Who? festival returns with another mammoth edition. Now in its 12th year, it'll take place at various theatres, clubs, churches, galleries and warehouses scattered across the city between 8–11 November. As usual, a selection of musicians, artists and activists have been commissioned to curate different strands of the line-up.

Curated stages include Devendra Banhart presenting Vashti Bunyan, Ebo Taylor, Shintaro Sakamoto (formerly of Tokyo’s Yura Yura Teikoku), Chihei Hatakeyama, Joan Of Arc, and others. Among director and activist Asia Argento's selection is Lydia Lunch's Big Sexy Noise; Vera Sola and Psychic Ills. Shabaka Hutchings's list includes his Sons Of Kemet, Kojey Radical, Kadri Gopalnath, BCUC, King Ayisoba, Sibusile Xaba and Hello Skinny, and Moor Mother brings to the party The Art Ensemble Of Chicago (performing on the eve of their 50th Anniversary), a collaboration between Saul Williams & King Britt, as well as Islam Chipsy & EEK, GAIKA, Irreversible Entanglements featuring Pat Thomas, Maja Ratkje, Maria Chavez, Nicole Mitchell, Pan Daijing, Ras G & The Afrikan Space Program, RP Boo, and more. Other acts set to appear over the four days include AMMAR 808, Anoushka Shankar & Manu Delago, Cüneyt Sepetçi, Hailu Mergia, Jozef van Wissem, Lucrecia Dalt, Lucy Railton, Meridian Brothers, and Oliver Coates. Beverly Glenn-Copeland will also give a rare performance on the invitation of both Moor Mother and Devendra Banhart.

In addition Le Guess Who? has commissioned two new projects to premiere during the festival: Jerusalem In My Heart collaborating with an oriental orchestra from Beirut on an adaptation of classical Egyptian work Ya Garat Al Wadi (1928), plus Haley Fohr’s Circuit Des Yeux, who’ll be presenting Reaching For Indigo: Gaia Infinitus with The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra.

Four day festival passes are available until 7 June for €117.50, after which the price will increase to €137.50. Day tickets will go on sale at a later date.

George Clinton & Parliament release first album in 38 years

Medicaid Fraud Dogg was released on 22 May as digital-only

Parliament have released a new digital only album. Medicaid Fraud Dogg is the group's first in 38 years, following Trombipulation in 1980.

“I had to get this music out there,” says George Clinton. “I felt real creative urgency to give the world this, right now.” Recently he said in a Reddit AMA that he'd been listening to “Flying Lotus, Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z's new album, Tra'Zae, and all that shit coming out of Atlanta. All that trap shit. I'm trapped in it.”

A live performance on 26 May at LA Greek Theater will mark George Clinton’s final world tour, running until May 2019. Following that Parliament-Funkadelic will continue on without Clinton. Recently Clinton is working as consulting producer for Season 2 of Tales From The Tour Bus, with each episode said to feature funk legends.

Medicaid Fraud Dogg is released on C Kunspyruhzy Records Inc. Listen to “I'm Gon Make U Sick O'Me” featuring Scarface and Mudbone.

Reggie Lucas has died

The former Miles Davis electric band guitarist and onetime Madonna producer was 65 years old

Born Reginald Grant Lucas in the New York borough of Queens in 1953, the guitarist, producer and songwriter was a member of Miles Davis's electric band from 1972–76, but is more popularly known for his production work on Madonna's self titled debut album.

Lucas's musical career began at the age of 16 in 1969 as a guitar player for Billy Paul of Philadelphia International Records. A few years later he went on to work with Miles Davis alongside Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Al Foster and percussionist James Mtume. The latter became the production partner with whom he worked on records by Stephanie Dorthea Mills and Rena Scott, among others. The pair also played together in Roberta Flack's band.

One of Lucas's first solo production works was Madonna’s self-titled 1983 album, but, as noted in The Times, it was not an easy task. Lucas had been bought in to add an R&B element to her debut – in the event, the only album of hers he worked on due to creative differences. As producer he was superseded by his childhood friend Nile Rodgers.

Lucas wrote and produced a 1976 solo set called Survival Themes for East Wind Records; and in 1982 Sunfire, his group featuring percussionist Rowland Smith and drummer Raymond Calhoun, released their self-titled album. Lucas also worked with The Weather Girls, Norman Connors and Gary Bartz, among many others.

In 1986 Lucas opened his Quantum Sound recording studio in Jersey City. In 1991 he suffered a heart attack. On 19 May he died of heart disease in Manhattan hospital, New York City.

Black Spirituals release new album on Sige

Black Access / Black Axes will be the last time Zachary James Watkins and Marshall Trammell release as Black Spirituals

Black Spirituals are set to release a new album on Aaron Turner's SIGE record label. Following on from their 2016 cassette full length Black Treatment (also on SIGE), Black Access / Black Axes will be Zachary James Watkins and Marshall Trammell's last release as a duo before they move on to solo endeavours.

“True to name, Black Spirituals evoke and produce a Black spirituality in the sonorous tradition of Black flight calling us to follow the North Star and any and all other pathways to freedom,” says writer Zoe Samudzi. “It’s the choreographed and synergistic spontaneity and improvisation with clear inspirations drawn from jazz traditions, indigenous African drumming, and anti/de-colonial musico-theological and ritualistic traditions across the Afro diaspora; and it’s an expression that constitutes the kind of musical fugitivity most organically and innately produced by Black Americans in our “post-emancipation” captive state.”

Black Access / Black Axes is released on 6 July. You can watch a live improvised performance at Switchboard festival in 2015 below.

Black Spirituals were featured in The Wire 390.

Local artists buy Delmark Records

One of the oldest independent jazz and blues label is taken over by Julia A Miller and Elbio Barilari

Delmark Records, the 65 year old Chicago based label that issued the first recordings by members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, was sold on 1 May to local artists and educators Julia A Miller and Elbio Barilari. The couple, both co-leaders of the improvisatory electro-acoustic ensemble Volcano Radar, and professors at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago respectively, have ambitious plans including new releases, multiple forms of distribution, and community projects.

Delmark was founded and run by record producer Bob Koester. Between 1966 and 1969 the label issued Roscoe Mitchell's Sound, Joseph Jarman's Song For, Anthony Braxton's Three Compositions Of The New Jazz and For Alto, and Muhal Richard Abrams' Levels And Degrees Of Light. In 1965 the label had an unexpected success with Junior Wells's Chicago Blues Band debut album Hoodoo Man Blues. An early collaboration with guitarist Buddy Guy, contractual negotiations meant that Guy was initially credited as Friendly Chap. Prior to Hoodoo Man Blues, Delmark focused on traditional jazz and new albums by re-discovered veterans during the 1960s blues revival.

Koester, who also owned and operated the Jazz Record Mart as a retail outlet and income source for Delmark, was often executive producer of Delmark albums. Chuck Nessa was responsible for the initial AACM recordings and eventually launched Nessa Records. Similarly, Delmark employee Bruce Iglauer launched his own blues label Alligator Records.

Delmark has sustained decades of documentation of Chicago's avant garde improvisers and mainstream jazz players. Other artists include Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Ensemble, Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Ernest Dawkins, Josh Berman, Nicole Mitchell, Jason Adasiewicz, Jeff Parker, Jason Stein, and Jim Baker. It kept recordings blues too, and has reissued classic titles acquired from defunct companies such as Pearl, Apollo and Sackville, some dating back to the 1920s. All making for an entire back catalogue and inventory that is estimated at 160,000 CDs, LPs and DVDs. Miller and Barilari have signed a long-term lease with right of first refusal to purchase on the label's headquarters, a one-story warehouse with a recording studio. Veteran producer and engineer Steve Wagner is remaining as its manager.

This year they plan to issue music by their own band with reeds player Paquito D'Rivera, an album featuring guitarist Fareed Haque, and previously unreleased Sun Ra recordings. They'll host a booth at the Chicago Blues Festival on 8 June as part of a celebration of Delmark's legacy with guitarists Lurrie Bell, Jimmy Johnson and Dave Specter. Koester, now 85, will be honoured at the festival.

"It's not only, and maybe not mostly, about selling physical product," acknowledges Barilari. "We want to be involved, to have an active presence in the scene here," says Miller. "We could use the building differently, have studio concerts, maybe gallery shows."

They plan to open the studio for rentals, have workshops for school groups, and attract local and international musicians for new projects. To those ends, they're in discussions with the Jazz Institute of Chicago, proposing an anthology to highlight the organisation's 50th anniversary in 2019.

By Howard Mandel

Artists pull out of Pop-Kultur over Israeli Embassy partnership

Richard Dawson and UK group Shopping withdraw from Berlin festival supported by Botschaft des Staates Israel

Artists have withdrawn from the line-up of Berlin festival Pop-Kultur amid controversy at the Israeli Embassy in the city contributing to travel and accommodation costs associated with the event. Newcastle singer-songwriter Richard Dawson has followed UK band Shopping in issuing a statement announcing they are now boycotting the event.

“In response to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel's call for artists to boycott the upcoming Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin… I regret to inform we've decided to cancel our performance,” ran Dawson’s statement on 17 May. “The killings on Monday of protesters in Gaza by Israeli government forces is the latest in a long string of atrocities acted upon the Palestinian people. Even if performing at Pop-Kultur meant I was endorsing such a government in only the very slightest of ways, I cannot in good conscience lend my music or my name to this.”

The festival meanwhile has issued a statement to clarify the involvement of the Israeli Embassy (Botschaft des Staates Israel) in Pop-Kultur. “Our 2018 lineup includes three Israeli artists. We will receive a total travel and accommodation contribution of €1,200 from the embassy,” the statement reads. “Currently the Israeli embassy is one of three festival partners contributing artist and travel support,” it continues, detailing other contributions from the British Council and the French Bureau Export.

The festival was also affected by artist boycotts in 2017, when Islam Chipsy & EEK were one of eight groups to pull out of the event. In recent years the festival has been criticised by figures including Thurston Moore and, this month, Brian Eno for its partnerships with the Israeli embassy.

“If there are artists who don’t want to perform at our festival because we receive travel and accommodation support from the Israeli embassy in Berlin, we very much regret that,” states the festival. “However, the boycott, the refusal to perform, is not our decision. We are always open to engaging in constructive dialogue.” The Boycott Pop-Kultur Festival organisation that has been agitating against artists performing at the event is part of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, which aims to put political pressure on Israel to change its policies over the Palestinian occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

SOU festival initiates campaign of solidarity for Youth Movement and LGBTQ+ community of Georgia

Following Saturday's raid at Bassiani and Café Gallery in Tbilisi, Georgia, SOU festival releases a statement of support

Following the armed police raids in the early hours of Saturday 12 May at club Bassiani and Café Gallery – both key spots in the Tbilisi dance music scene, with Bassiani home to the largest LGBT+ parties in Georgia – and the proceeding protests across the city, Tbilisi's SOU festival has released a statement of solidarity.

“SOU festival has initiated a campaign of solidarity for youth movement and LGBT+ community of Georgia,” founder and artistic director Sandro Lominashvili tells us. “Basically this campaign and statement is an act of support from [the] cultural sector.”

Support has already come from ICAS network, Tbilisi State Conservatoire, Ilia State University, Georgian Philharmonic and many more cultural institutions, and artists including Christopher Tignor, Jacob Kirkegaard, and Bjork.

“In these days, Georgian youth has responded to gross violence and restrictions of freedom of expression with love. Have a look at a small episode of the demonstration, which took place on May 12th and best reflects the content of the current events.

“Lay your love on me – according to the title of the song by Swedish pop group Abba, Sou festival initiates campaign for solidarity and equality.”

The joint statement reads:

“Recent special “anti drug” operation, that was carried out by police forces in the clubs Bassiani and Café Gallery resulted in an unprecedented protest of the thousands, mostly the young people, who took to the streets of Tbilisi. They reacted not only to the specific acts of violence but a long-term irresponsible attitude of the system, which instead of caring for people opted for their oppression as well. Content of the protest expanded beyond the issue of drug policy and united individuals under the umbrella of the most frequently articulated value of the recent days – the freedom: demand for justice and equality, longing for changes and diversity in life. The established situation revealed an existing crisis that operates on different levels and demonstrated inevitability of changes, for which fight continues.

“May 17 is an international day against homophobia and trans-phobia. Exactly five years ago a small group of people who gathered in Tbilisi to celebrate it, was attacked and became a victim of violence from the side of representatives of religious community. According to the statement of the LGBT+ community, today they decided to bear responsibility for avoidance of a civil conflict. They are forced to cancel the gathering in response to a threat of physical violence and attacks from the side of right-wing, neo-Nazi and religious conservative groups that besieged youth demonstration in front of the parliament several days ago. Unfortunately, in Georgia LGBT+ community still faces the violence and discrimination on an everyday basis. Prevailing negative attitudes towards these people hinder them from exercising the most important human rights, including the rights to equality, freedom of expression, peaceful gathering, education, employment, healthcare etc.

“SOU festival gives support and solidarity towards the youth movement, representatives of the sexual minorities and activists who fight for a better future on a daily basis and sometimes even jeopardizing their lives.

“We would like to address the representatives of the musical, artistic and academic fields who we did not have had time and opportunity to contact, to join the solidarity action through dissemination of this statement or by any other means.”

Sound Photography project has launched covering 34 countries and six continents

Multimedia project poses the question“what is the connection between sound and photography?”

Oxford based sound project Cities and Memory are back with a new digital multimedia platform featuring collaborations between 166 photographers and sound artists. Last year saw the launch of their online database mapping sound bites of protests across the globe, and in 2016 they launched a sound map of the London underground network. This time, however, the new project approaches the question “what is the connection between sound and photography?”. Musicians responded to the images by using elements from them as a musicia notation, with the outcome a collection of over 100 sound pieces composed as a response to photographs taken in some 34 countries.

The collection can be viewed and listened to in full on the Cities and Memory website, with locations including Tiananmen Square, the Empire State Building and Copacabana Beach.