The Wire


Charles Cohen dies aged 71

The American synth player had only recently been released from prison

Buchla synthesizer improvisor and Philadelphia art underground collaborator Charles Cohen has died at the age of 71. Cohen released few recordings in his lifetime, and much of his music was confined to theatre or dance projects. But a series of 12"s and albums on Morphine Records in the 2010s raised his profile and led to a new burst of touring and collaboration across Europe and beyond.

Cohen had just been released from jail: he was arrested for unlawful contact with a minor in a 2015 sting operation in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and tried and convicted in early 2017.

Two rare Mary Jane Leach works rediscovered

Blume have released two overlooked compositions rooted in 1980s New York minimalism

Two neglected archival works by the American composer Mary Jane Leach have just been released on an album called Pipe Dreams. The LP’s title track was recorded on St Peter’s church organ in Cologne in 1989; the other track is a 1984 composition for four bass clarinets called 4BC.

Mary Jane Leach arrived in New York in the 1970s, where her peers included Julius Eastman, Arnold Dreyblatt, Arthur Russell, Ellen Fullman, Peter Zummo, Philip Corner and others. In 1983 she joined The Downtown Ensemble. Following Eastman’s death in May 1990 she became a key player in protecting his legacy.

Pipe Dreams is released in a limited edition of 300 copies by Blume.

ZULI wins CTM radio lab prize

The Cairo electronic music producer and sound artist has won a commission to produce a work based on the concept of turmoil

CTM festival has announced that Ahmed El Ghazoly aka ZULI is the winner of its 2018 Radio Lab commission. Awarded by Deutschlandfunk Kultur and CTM Festival, and in collaboration with ORF musikprotokoll im steirischen herbst and Ö1 Kunstradio, the festival had made a call for submissions for radio and performance or installation works based on the 2018 festival's theme of Turmoil.

An electronic music producer and sound artist from Cairo, El Ghazoly is also co-founder of Kairo Is Koming (KIK) collective, who are responsible for Cairo’s first alternative music venue VENT. His proposal is for a work that will document the political climate in Cairo through a series of conversations held with locals over the past years incorporated with his own music productions and video footage. As El Ghazoly explained, the city has “a feeling of a volcano on the verge of erupting but never actually does”. At CTM 2018 the piece will be exhibited as an installation with 360 degree video footage shot on locations where its interviews and sound collages were sourced. There will also be a website documenting the project, which will be realised as a radio piece in the month following the festival.

Folke Rabe has died

The Swedish musician and composer who died on 25 September was 81 years old

Swedish jazz musician, composer and lecturer Folke Rabe has died. Born in 1935, Rabe studied at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music under the likes of Valdemar Söderholm, Bo Wallner, György Ligeti and others. Starting out as a jazz musician, Rabe went on to release many works during his lifetime, including the electronic drone composition What??, which was originally released on a split LP with Bo Anders Persson by Wergo in 1970 and reissued by Important in 2012. In The Wire 347, David Keenan described What?? as “one of the great modern musical koans”.

“Eternal music is not a music that sounds forever, despite its promise,” wrote Keenan. “Rather it is a music that sounds the ends of space, the limits of space, which allow us to conceptualise it. Rabe consistently talks about getting inside the sound, and what we find there is not emptiness itself but endless shells, redolent of emptiness, fields where emptiness might manifest or suggest itself, but never, quite, the experience of emptiness itself. The music of Folke Rabe, like the moulds of Rachel Whiteread, like the music of Blue Cheer, makes the inexplicable explicable and underlines the most primal combination, the ultimate duet: that between time and space – reverberant in space, expressive in time, but ultimately expressive of nothing, really, except variations of itself again and again.”

Other Rabe works include Pièce, (1961), Bolos (1962) and Rondes (1964), the last named being one of his most frequently performed works. Rabe worked as a music administrator at Swedish Institute for National Concerts between 1968–80, and from 1980 worked for the Swedish National Broadcasting Corporation as an editor, editor-in-chief and programme manager.

Seismic Ooze surveys the work of Mika Taanila

Major London retrospective also includes unheard works from Mika Vainio and Erkki Kurenniemi, as well a special Taanila performance with Charles Hayward and Jussi Lehtisalo

A celebration of the work of Finnish film maker and musician Mika Taanila will be spilling out all over London from 16–22 October. Curated by Stanley Schtinter, Seismic Ooze is an extensive survey of the themes that have obsessed Taanila over the years, ranging from scientific advancement and nuclear power to failed utopias.

On 19 October, the ICA presents Nuclear Renaissance, featuring the UK premiere of Return Of The Atom, when Taanila will also be in conversation with Ele Carpenter, an expert in nuclear aesthetics. Heading east the following day Cafe Oto and NTS hosts the debut performance of a trio featuring Jussi Lehtisalo of Circle, Charles Hayward and Taanila, supported by ex-Wire member Bruce Gilbert. Recordings, in memory of Taanila's friend and collaborator, the late Mika Vainio. Elsewhere in East London, Whitechapel Gallery has lined up a showcase of short films by Taanila on 21 October, and from 20–22 October Close-Up Film Centre will run playbacks of unheard music by Mika Vainio and Erkki Kurenniemi in a pitch-black auditorium. Also on 22 October, Taanila will be in conversation with LUX Deputy Director Maria Palacios Cruz, along with film screenings of works by Pasi ‘Sleeping’ Myllymäki, Erkki Kurenniemi and Eino Ruutsalo. Taanila’s My Silence installation will be on show in the foyer of Leman Locke (16–22 October), and as a warm up to the weekend, Central Saint Martins will present a selection of films at Futuro House, plus Douglas Murphy, Maria Lisogorskaya (of Assemble), Louis Benassi, and the event's curator Stanley Schtinter in conversation.

More information can be found here.

Rhodri Davies concert series in Swansea

Rhodri Davies is putting on four special events in Swansea this October, one of which will have Philip Corner perform in the Welsh city for the first time since the 1960s

Rhodri Davies will host four events in Swansea this October featuring a series of rare performances in the country from Philip Corner and Evan Parker.

The first of the four NAWR October events will happen on 1 October featuring Evan Parker and Jenn Kirby and is in collaboration with Swansea International Festival. The second event will happen on 8 October with Jason Kahn & Christian Wolfarth and Colin Webster & Graham Dunning in a night that bring together avant-garde musicians from the US, Switzerland and the UK. Next up will be on 12 October with Metal Meditations: Philip Corner, Phoebe Neville, Ian Holloway & David Pitt. The following night Philip Corner will then appear again, this time with Davies himself.

“It is a big thing to have Philip Corner back to play in Wales again since the last time he came in the 60s. It is also a rare performance for Evan in Swansea so the concerts are a bit special,” says Davies.

Full information can be found here.

Umor Rex donate all Bandcamp sales to the Red Cross in Mexico

In the aftermath of Mexico's 7.1 magnitude earthquake last Tuesday, Umor Rex will be donating all sales money to the rescue effort

Mexico City's Umor Rex record label and publishing house have announced that from today until 15 October they will be donating 100% of monies raised via digital sales on Bandcamp to the Red Cross in Mexico.

“As you may know, our beloved town, Mexico City was devastated the last Tuesday for a terrible earthquake,” says the label's Daniel Castrejon. “We are working hard doing rescue labors, lifting debris, designing infographics to inform,” he continues. “Unfortunately, we need more than our hard work to achieve the normality. We love our city and our people, but the corruption is present in the political class. So WE, the people are taking the problem in our shoulders.”

You can check out the catalogue, featuring artists such as Kara-Lis Coverdale and LXV, Félicia Atkinson, M. Geddes Gengras, Driftmachine, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Missing Organs (the project of Wire writer Tristan Bath) and loads more, at their Bandcamp page. Alternatively you can donate directly to Mexico's Red Cross via PayPal.

Audio engineer Hedley Jones has died

The Jamaican sound engineer, musician and writer responsible for building the country’s first sound systems was 99 years old

Jamaican musician, audio engineer, inventor and writer Hedley HG Jones died on 1 September – two months short of his 100th birthday. The Jamaican Observer stated that he had died in Montego Bay on 1 September, and noted various tributes, including one from musicologist Kingsley Goodison: “Hedley was a gigantic man where music is concerned. I have known him from I was a child, but never really met him until about 15 years ago when he was honoured at Tribute To The Greats. He was quite an unsung hero.”

Born in Linstead, Jamaica on 12 November 1917, Jones's first self-built instrument was a cello, which he made when he was 14. In 1935 he moved to Kingston, pursuing various careers such as a bus driver or repairing radios and gramophones. His first job, however, was as a proof reader with the Jamaican Times in 1936. It was there he first heard a Benny Goodman record with Charlie Christian on jazz guitar. Jones, a tenor banjo player at the time, called up the Gibson guitar company to enquire about the instrument, but could not afford it so a friend challenged him to make one. At that time no manufacturers produced solid bodied guitars, so Jones made his own using Jamaican rose wood. In 1940 he appeared on the front page of the Daily Gleaner with his invention, one of the first solid bodied electric guitars.

Jones was aged just 23 at the time, and by 1945, he had joined the British Royal Airforce and trained as a radar engineer as part of the war effort. Later, using the knowledge he gleaned in this role, he would help build some of the first sound systems, splitting high and low frequencies having noted that before the Second World War public address systems were not designed to respond to low frequencies. He kitted out studios across Kingston, and built sound rigs for Tom Wong and his system Tom The Great Sebastian, Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid’s Trojan, and Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One.

Later, Hedley would become president for Jamaica Federation of Musicians (1985–95) and in 1993 was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government. He was also awarded with the Musgrave Medal in 2011, and in 2014 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association.

Punk House exhibition set up in Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead

The exhibition features an interior mural by The Wire’s Savage Pencil

An exhibition called Punk House is up and running at Mike Kelley's Mobile Homestead, a full-scale replica of the single-story childhood home of Detroit, Michigan born artist and Destroy All Monsters member, the late Mike Kelley.

Running until 7 January, the exhibition is curated by Destroy All Monsters’ founding member Cary Loren, and works as a companion exhibition to the contemporaneous Sonic Rebellion: Music As Resistance exhibition which looks at the music, art and activism of the Detroit punk and noise art scenes from the 1970s to the present day. Punk House will feature display posters, flyers, zines and records, an interior mural by The Wire’s Savage Pencil and an installation by Detroit based artist James J Millross (aka Jimbo Easter), and more.

Both exhibitions take place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. Full information can be found on their website.

Europalia Indonesia comes to London

The biennial celebration of traditional and contemporary Indonesian culture is coming to the UK for the first time this year

Europalia Indonesia will kick off this October in London with a specific focus on music and dance. This will be the first time the Belgian Europalia biennale comes to the UK with Indonesia invited as the guest country for this 26th edition.

The programme will start on 20 October at London's Rich Mix with a night of Indonesian 1960s rock featuring performances by Jakarta’s Indische Party and a tribute to the East Javanese all female group Dara Puspita. The music of Moondog will also be reimagined as experimental gamelan compositions by Javanese composer Iwan Gunawan and Moondog’s friend Stefan Lakatos at LSO St Luke’s on 28 October, and vocalist Peni Candra Rini, dancer Ade Suharto and musicians from Surakarta, Central Java, will stage an adaptation of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s novel This Earth Of Mankind at King's Place on 25 November. As well as that, on 18 January the gamelan composer Aloysius Suwardi’s Planet Harmonik project will bring together a host of self-made instruments and the Pythagorean theory of the Music of the Spheres.

More information can be found on the festival website.