The Wire


Arc Light Editions reissue Gaelic Psalms From The Hebrides

Traditional improvised songform from the Isle of Lewis cut to vinyl for Salm Vol 1

UK label Arc Light Editions return with a collection of gaelic psalm singing from the Hebrides. Run by The Wire contributor Jennifer Lucy Allan and Multiverse’s James Ginzburg, the imprint’s fourth release Salm Vol 1 features a performance of an improvised song tradition still practised on the Hebrides Isle of Lewis. Captured over two evenings at the Back Free Church in October 2003, the recordings were originally released on CD and cassette by Bethesda Care Home and Hospice. Now Arc Light Editions are releasing it as a vinyl LP for the first time.

The practice of psalm singing, where a precentor introduces a line of a psalm and the congregation respond by singing it, is a form of call and response known as lining out or hymn lining, and was introduced to some areas of America in the 18th century by Presbyterian immigrants.

Arc Light Editions worked with the music’s original producer Calum Martin and Doctor Robert Macdonald from Bethesda Hospice, and a portion of the profits will go to the latter. Salm: Gaelic Psalms From The Hebrides Of Scotland Vol 1 is out now.

Back in November 2016, Noel Meek surveyed the sights and sounds of gaelic psalm singing as part of a pilgrimage from New Zealand back to the country of his grandparents. You can read it via The Wire Portal.

Music And Poetry Of The Kesh reissued on LP

Soundtrack to late US writer Ursula K Le Guin’s sci-fi work Always Coming Home released by Freedom To Spend

Todd Barton and Ursula K Le Guin's recording Music And Poetry Of The Kesh, originally released as a cassette accompanying Le Guin's 1985 book Always Coming Home, will receive a long awaited reissue next month via Freedom To Spend. Part novel, part lengthy textbook, the publication tells the story of an invented Pacific Coast people called The Kesh and a woman called Stone Telling, weaving an anthropological narrative of folklore and fantasy. For its soundtrack, words and lyrics were put together by the late novelist while the sound was composed by Barton, an Oregon based musician and Buchla synthesist with whom Le Guin had worked on public radio projects.

Both Barton and Le Guin has started work on the reissue before the novelist's death on 22 January of this year. Moe Bowstern, a writer and friend of Le Guin, wrote the sleevenotes for this new edition in which she explains that Barton had built and then taught himself to play several instruments of Le Guin’s design, among them “the seven-foot horn known to the Kesh as the Houmbúta and the Wéosai Medoud Teyahi bone flute.”

The Freedom To Spend label add “Both Barton and Le Guin are sensitive to the sovereignty of indigenous Californians and were careful not to trample the traditions of the Tolowa people who lived in the valley long before the Kesh.” As Barton puts it in notes accompanying the release, “You research deeply, and then you bring your own voice to the table.”

The LP will include a printed jacket with Le Guin’s illustrations from Always Coming Home, a facsimile of the original lyric sheet, sleevenotes by Moe Bowstern, download code and a bookmark. It's released in both physical and digital formats on 23 March.

Watch Ursula K Le Guin and Todd Barton’s “A Teaching Poem/Heron Dance” below.

Rare Indonesian electronic music by Otto Sidharta released by Sub Rosa

Indonesian Electronic Music 1979–1992 collects previously unreleased works by artist who combines environmental and synthetic sounds

Previously unreleased recordings of Indonesian electronic music by Otto Sidharta have been released by the veteran Belgian avant garde label Sub Rosa. Sidharta was born in Bandung in Indonesia in 1955, and his works have frequently combined environmental and synthetic sounds. He studied music composition at Jakarta Institute of Arts under Slamet Abdul Sjukur – who had himself previously studied under Olivier Messiaen – and his first performed composition was Kemelut (1979), an electronic piece based on the sound of water. He recently appeared at Berghain’s Raung Ray #2: The Magic Of Sunda in Berlin, an event produced by Morphine Records and Europalia Indonesia. Titled Indonesian Electronic Music 1979–1992, the album anthologises Sidharta’s previously unreleased works. It's available now.

Westbrook releases The Uncommon Orchestra featuring Lou Gare

New recordings emerge of the AMM saxophonist performing with the group in 2010

Westbrook Records is set to release a new CD of live recordings of The Uncommon Orchestra featuring Lou Gare. In the early 1960s, Gare worked with Mike Westbrook in a trio that also included John Surman. Nearly four decades later, they reunited as The Uncommon Orchestra, with the AMM saxophonist contributing to the orchestra’s workshops and concerts. But health problems meant Gare was unable to participate in recording the album. He died on 6 October 2017. However Matthew North captured some of their early performances on tape, some of which will be released as Mike Westbrook In Memory Of Lou Gare Tenor Saxophone (1939 To 2017). Westbrook is looking for patrons to support the release. For more information contact:

Funding option available for CAMP students

Two new initiatives have been launched to widen accessibility

Pyrenean art school CAMP has announced two new funding initiatives in a bid to widen its accessibility. The Open Grants programme is available to anyone and offers to cover half the cost of a session at CAMP, while its Educational Match Programme gives universities the opportunity to cover part of the cost, with the art school matching any donations. Classes scheduled for 2018 are: Video and Installation Art with Laure Prouvost, Environmental Sound Recording with Chris Watson, Modern Composition with Gavin Bryars, Hidden Sounds with Christina Kubisch, Live Art with Anne Bean, Deep Listening, Meditation and Laughter with Laraaji, Screenwriting with Walt Donahue, Experimental Performance with Eli Keszler, Ensemble Playing with Apartment House, and Play Writing with John Burgess.

Silent Front and Bruxa Maria seriously injured in van accident

A fundraising campaign has been set up to help the two groups recover

Bruxa Maria’s Matt Cargill, also of Sly And The Family Drone, is currently in hospital following an accident that left him and fellow members of Bruxa Maria and Silent Front with serious injuries. The two groups were in France heading for a gig in Paris when the accident happened on 20 January. Both are now facing considerable costs to cover their medical bills and replace equipment. A JustGiving campaign has been set up to raise funds on their behalf – a benefit concert at New River Studios in London has already contributed £873. At the time of writing Matt Cargill was still in hospital with a collapsed lung and fractured humerus. Other members are variously suffering from a fractured rib and vertebrae, a broken arm, bruises, sores and scrapes.

Gaika performs The Spectacular Empire II: The Time Machine in Berlin

The South London based musician tells The Wire about his new commission for MONOM's 4DSound system

“The project is about spatial dislocation, my internal conversation and very fast machines,” explains Gaika when asked about his forthcoming project The Spectacular Empire II: The Time Machine, which he has adapted for a performance at MONOM this week. Commissioned as part of Berlin's CTM festival, this extension to Gaika's Spectacular Empire series makes use of the venue's new 4DSound system; a spatial and immersive sound environment that houses 48 omnidirectional speakers and nine subs.

In September 2017 Gaika’s story The Spectacular Empire: A Future Imagined was published by Dazed. It starts from a familiar scene of civil unrest, but culminates in the mass redistribution of power and a New London run by a collectivist militarised cult called The Spectacular Empire. Experimenting with time travel, they eventually disappear into folklore, perhaps heading for Africa in 2062. Is The Spectacular Empire II: The Time Machine, then, a continuation of this? No, states Gaika. “It's more an interpretation of, then a linear continuation,” he declares. “I tend to be fairly indirect about such things.

The Spectacular Empire II: The Time Machine is an audio visual performance piece where I'm doing some really interesting things with my voice,” he continues. “The Time Machine is performative, and it’s immersive as well as ‘viewed’. It is about presenting inner worlds and asking the audience to enter themselves fully and believe.

“This work is about imagination. I believe we have the power to write history with our imagination. I’m someone with a fairly elastic grip on time as a notion, partly due the amount of travel I do, and an overactive imagination. I guess The Time Machine is a pretty arcane attempt at warping the mechanics of a commonly perceived reality.”

When asked about a political drive to his work, Gaika responds, “I feel like these people – Trump, May, Putin et al – they really mean to kill us all. As an artist I feel like it's disingenuous to pretend we are in some sort of separate bubble where none of that matters.”

The concept of The Spectacular Empire was based on a screenplay (yet to be finished) that his brother, the film maker Kibwe Tavares, is currently working on. It also draws inspiration from neo-noir anime and brutalist architecture, says Gaika, who continues, “It’s an aesthetic thing mainly. A large part of The Spectacular Empire and therefore The Time Machine, is about the art and its context, namely how changes to the built environment affect the behaviour of people. High density housing in London is a key starting point for this as a thought experiment.”

Indeed, in previous interviews this Brixton, South London based artist has referenced the sounds of the city as a major inspiration for a lot of his artistic output. He expands on the theme: “The sonic palette and also the way we experience sound in many dimensions – bouncing sound off of materials, real or imagined is a large part of The Time Machine. I think it’s quite alien to experience performed music this way but not alien when we think about how and where we actually hear everything else.”

But is there a friction between an urban landscape and the glossy, high definition approach of the 4D system? Yes there definitely is, luxury things like 4D are inaccessible to 90 percent of urban artists and sadly not really relevant to many people living in high density housing. To be honest the elitism does grate. However I think the only real solution is participation, subversion and demonstration thereof. I hope by doing this I can show that is what is possible.”

The Spectacular Empire II: The Time Machine takes place on 30 & 31 January at MONOM, Berlin, with support from TCF and IOANN. Also commissioned is Pan Daijing, who will be supported by FIS and IOANN, on 1 & 2 February. Gaika appeared on the cover of The Wire 388.

Mark E Smith 1957–2018

The Fall frontman died aged 60 on 24 January

Mark E Smith died at his Greater Manchester home in Prestwich on 24 January. He was 60 years old. The Fall founder and frontman had been struggling with health issues for a number of years. Smith was born in Broughton in Lancashire on 5 March 1957. In June 1976 he attended the infamous Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall alongside future members of Buzzcocks, The Smiths and Joy Division, and soon after formed The Fall with his friends Martin Bramah, Una Baines and Tony Friel, the first of numerous line-ups that would see some 60 musicians filter through the band. Their earliest recordings – represented by 1978 debut EP Bingo-Master’s Break Out!, the following year’s Live At The Witch Trials and Dragnet, 1980’s Grotesque (After The Gramme) and 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour – established many Fall trademarks: dogged repetition, clanging guitars and Smith’s unique lyricism, drawing as much on daily mundanity as the weird fiction that had inspired him while growing up, barked in a working class Mancunian accent. From 1978 onward The Fall maintained a work ethic that saw them release studio albums at the rate of roughly one a year. Most recently, they released New Facts Emerge in 2017.

In spite of the misanthropic outlook which made his interviews required reading, Smith frequently collaborated with other artists, including Michael Clark, Edwyn Collins, DOSE, Gorillaz, Coldcut and Inspiral Carpets. He also worked with Mouse On Mars on the project Von Südenfed. In addition to The Fall, Smith released two solo spoken word sets, 1998’s The Post-Nearly Man and 2002’s Pander! Panda! Panzer!.

The Wire’s first interview with Mark E Smith was published in August 1986 (issue 30). Over the next three decades he and The Fall were covered extensively in the magazine: he was interviewed at least seven times, appeared on the cover three times and twice sat the Invisible Jukebox test (Smith being the only artist to take this honour).

For more on The Wire’s Fall coverage, see our online Archive Portal.

Bill Laswell's Orange Music Studio under threat

Rising costs prompt a call for help from the New Jersey studio where the likes of Bernie Worrell and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry have recorded

A fundraising campaign has been launched to save US bassist and producer Bill Laswell's Orange Music Studio. Laswell moved his operations from Brooklyn to New Jersey in 1998, when he took over the space that had once housed Grand Slam Studios. At Orange Music, Laswell’s production work has included sessions with Tabla Beat Science, Sly & Robbie and Matisyahu, as well as Bernie Worrell and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. But now the space is calling for help to remain open.

“Beset by health problems while trying to navigate this harsh and uncertain economic landscape, Laswell is struggling to maintain Orange Music, the legendary New Jersey studio that he as helmed for the last 20 years. He is putting the call out to all fans, friends and fellow artists alike: If you can help, please do so now. No contribution is too small,” reads the fundraising page.

At the time of writing the campaign has raised $11,749 out of its $25,000 target, with a wide range of downloads, CDs and T-shirts on offer to donors as a thanks for helping. More information can be found at gofundme.

East London venue Mirth, Marvel & Maud celebrates John Coltrane

Saxophonist Denys Baptiste curates the one day event at the historical venue where the jazz giant played in 1961

On 17 February Coltrane Culture will celebrate the life, music and spiritual journey of the jazz musician and composer John Coltrane. “Many cultures still use music to evoke higher states of being, focusing the mind and body as a conduit to connect with the spirit,” says the event’s curator Denys Baptiste. “John Coltrane is considered by many as one of the world’s best Jazz musicians, who channelled music through the lens of the divine. His early career was hampered by addiction until 1957, when he experienced a dramatic spiritual awakening that changed both the course of his life and transformed Jazz on a global scale. The spiritual source of his music has inspired both musicians and listeners alike, making his Jazz truly timeless.”

The event will feature a screening of John Scheinfeld's Coltrane documentary Chasing Trane, followed by a panel discussion exploring his influence today. There will also be a selection of Coltrane inspired performances including a solo harp set from Alina Bzhezhinska, The Gary Crosby Quartet with Evan Parker, live performances by Tomorrow’s Warriors, and Denys Baptiste performing music from his album The Late Trane. Other attractions include a DJ set by Blacktronica’s Charlie Dark, hiphop and jazz inspired yoga and meditation sessions, and a showcase of Coltrane inspired art and music by students at Big Creative Education.

Coltrane Culture will take place at Mirth, Marvel & Maud in Walthamstow, London.