The Wire


Anne Hilde Neset appointed new director of Oslo's Kunstnernes Hus

The Wire's company director and ex-Deputy Editor will take up the post in June

Kunstnernes Hus, the Oslo based artist-run exhibition space and cinema, has announced that its new director will be The Wire contributor and company director Anne Hilde Neset. Anne currently works as artistic director of nyMusikk and she’s also a host of Late Junction on BBC Radio 3. “Kunstnernes Hus has a historic atmosphere and can accommodate a kind of interdisciplinary thinking that is not often found in Oslo,” she says. “It can showcase diverse art forms at the same time, and is an ideal space in which to examine issues from many different angles – exhibitions, film, talks and music. I see it as a place for cultural exploration, exchange of ideas and opinion-forming – as a place that’s not only great fun, but where it feels important to be.”

Kunstnernes Hus held The Wire and nyMusikk's Off The Page literary festival in Norway for three years running before its move to Bergen's Landmark Bergen Kunstall.

Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman set up new label Freedom To Spend

The record label has been designed as another arm to Matt Werth's RVNG Intl

Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman of Portland’s Little Axe Records have started a sister label to Matt Werth’s RVNG Intl. Called Freedom To Spend, the first two releases have already been announced, with more promised for 2017.

“From a long lost CDR label of the same name Pete steered through a couple releases,” explains Werth, “Freedom To Spend was to be a resource for restoring under experienced, unavailable albums that just work from start to finish.” As a resource for restoring under-experienced, unavailable albums, Freedom To Spend hopes to contextualise them the way the artists might imagine them released for the first time today. The idea is to collapse and confuse timelines and narratives, and for that matter, responses from listeners.

The first two records scheduled are Michele Mercure’s Eye Chant and Marc Barreca’s Music Works For Industry.

You can watch a short video of Michele Mercure at work below. It was filmed by New York-based film maker Jason Evans.

Gustav Metzger has died aged 90

The man who developed the concept of auto-destructive art also worked with musicians such as Rhodri Davies and Annea Lockwood

The artist and political activist Gustav Metzger died on 1 March at his home in London. He was 90 years old. Metzger was born to Polish Jewish parents in Nuremberg, Gemany, in 1926, and in 1939 he moved to the UK with other Kindertransport refugee children fleeing Nazi Germany. Metzger studied art at Sir John Cass Institute in Aldgate East (1945–48) and later at Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp (1948–49).

His childhood experiences, witnessing the rise of Nazism and becoming a refugee, influenced much of his work in later life, which explored society's will to destruct. A political activist as well as an artist, Metzger held lectures and symposiums, and took part in demonstrations, At one demo against nuclear weapons he was arrested for civil disobedience. Metzger first publicly noted his concept of auto-destructive art in his manifesto dated 4 November 1959. As quoted in Art Forum, Metzger had said: “When I saw the Nazis march, I saw machine-like people and the power of the Nazi state. Auto-destructive art is to do with rejecting power.” He worked with many media including sculpture, fine art and public demonstrative works, which on 22 June 1960 had him apply hydrochloric acid to white nylon sheets, a work later recreated in 2004 at London’s Tate Britain.

In his 2010 exhibition Blow Up: Exploding Sound And Noise (London–Brighton, 1959–69) curator David Toop included Metzger as part of a network of sculptors, musicians, poets and film makers in 1960s London that was united by a shared noise aesthetic in the shadow of nuclear weapons. “Metzger’s lecture to London’s Architectural Association in 1965,” noted Wire contributor David, “given at a time of utopian rhetoric about the future technological revolution, accurately predicted the dystopian consequences of environmental pollution, the psychological pressure of continuous noise and vibration, the anti-heroic trajectory of modern war. ‘To survive,’ he said, ‘capitalism must continue to expand production. It is boom or bust!’”

Metzger has worked with and/or influenced many artists and musicians. The Who’s Pete Townshend famously noted Metzger’s impact on his work, and Yoko Ono has also expressed admiration. Indeed in 1966 Metzger co-organised the Destruction In Art Symposium which featured Ono alongside Ivor Davies, Juan Hidalgo, John Latham, John Sharkey and others. Other composers and musicians who have worked with Metzger include composer Annea Lockwood and, in 2008, Rhodri Davies, who collaborated with him in a series of events called Self-Cancellation, in which artists performed a public exploration of the principles of self-cancellation in sound, featuring Benedict Drew, John Butcher and others. Intermedium Records released a compilation entitled A Tribute To Gustav Metzger in 2008. Compiled by Justin Hoffmann, it featured artists’ and musicians’ responses to Metzger's influences.

Krems’ Donaufestival returns this year

First acts have been announced for the 2017 edition happening between 28 April– 6 May

Austria’s Donaufestival kicks off in Krems at the end of April with a line-up that includes Elysia Crampton, Einstürzende Neubauten, GAS, Gazelle Twin, DJ LAG, Moor Mother, Silver Apples, Klara Lewis, Scritti Politti, Actress, This Is Not This Heat, Jace Clayton with his rework project The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner, and many others. “I’d like to see the relationships between idiosyncrasy and social engagement oscillate,” says its 2017 artist director Thomas Edlinger. “The familiar programme points music, performance and visual arts intermingle through leitmotifs, expanded and enhanced by new presentation and communication formats.”

The event runs from 28 April–6 May. Day passes are available now. The full programme will be announced on 9 March.

20 years of Optimo

The duo behind the Glaswegian club night and label will host a 20th anniversary all dayer in August

To mark 20 years since Optimo launched at Sub Club in Glasgow, the duo will host a special all-dayer in August. Although DJs Twitch and JG Wilkes called time on the club in 2010, Optimo still operate as a label and music duo. They also continue to throw parties on a regular basis. On 6 August they will take over SWG3 and the neighbouring Galvinizer’s Yard for a full day of music, DJs and live acts performing across three stages.

“We could never have imagined that what started out as a small gathering of like-minded freaks on Sunday nights at The Sub Club back in 1997 would flourish and endure two decades later,” say Optimo. “We felt this was something that deserved celebrating so to mark this event we have decided to put on a one day festival/party in conjunction with our friends at SWG3. We will be the first music event to take over the Galvanizer’s Yard next door to the SWG3 complex, as well as using parts of the building to present three stages that we feel represents the music and ethos Optimo has loved and championed over the years.”

The 6 August event will run from 2pm–11pm. The line-up will feature Apeiron Crew, Aurora Halal, Avalon Emerson, The Black Madonna, Ben UFO, Errorsmith, Happy Meals, King Aysioba, K-N-P, Midland, Miss Red & The Bug, and others, with some of the profits being donated to Glasgow’s Coalition For Racial Equality & Rights and various Glasgow Foodbanks.

Incubate calls it a day

The dutch festival will not be hosting a 2017 edition due to funding cuts

Dutch festival Incubate has announced that after 13 years in action they have ceased plans to continue this year due to funding cuts. “Incubate is heavily disappointed by the decision of the Municipality of Tilburg to not provide any more funding in 2017,” the statement reads. “This news comes after the Province of Noord-Brabant already cut funding for the coming four years. The organisation finds it financially irresponsible to continue and will therefore cease its activities.”

During its 13 year run the Tilburg based festival has featured artists such Psychic TV, Pauline Oliveros, Sun Ra Arkestra, Fields Of Yhe Nephilim, Shackleton, Mercury Rev, Cabaret Voltaire, and many others. Just last week its name was added to the list of 50 most important festivals of the Netherlands by 3voor12, a Dutch music platform.

“The organisation deeply regrets that, through this decision, Tilburg will lose a unique festival of international standing. This will certainly have an adverse effect on the conditions and opportunities in Tilburg for young artists, emerging bands, recently graduated filmmakers and game developers and progressive, culture-loving citizens,” Incubate’s statement continues. “The organisation entreats that the Municipality of Tilburg will use the now available funds as designated; to provide substantial and accessible art and culture in the city and the wider region. Although there will no longer be a festival held by the organisation, the foundation will continue to exist for now.

“We thank all our artists, visitors, volunteers, supporters and partners for 13 incredible years. It has been a blast!”

You can read the full statement over at the Incubate website.

Remko Scha retrospective happening in Nottingham

The late algorithmic composer who died back in 2015 will be subject to an exhibition and book documenting his career

Nottingham’s TG gallery are mounting an exhibition of work by the late guitarist Remko Scha. The musician and algorithmic artist, who died in November 2015, explored methods of making music without direct human intervention, as exemplified by his 1982 album Machine Guitars. The exhibition will run from 31 March–4 June. A book will also be published to coincide with the exhibition, and there will be a performance at Nottingham Contemporary of Remko Scha’s The Machines on 3 June.

Mica Levi collaborates with her sister Francesca on a new soundtrack project

The project, which also features Wrangler, is about making music for “the greatest films never made”

Mica and Francesca Levi and Wrangler (Stephen Mallinder, Benge and Phil Winter) are working on a new soundtrack project. Called The Unfilmables, it’s about making music for the greatest films never made. It will commission musicians and sound artists to create a soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist. Wrangler will work on a fictional sci-fi flick The Tourist, while Micachu & The Shapes leader Levi and her video artist sister will be working on The Colour Of Chips, a film purportedly based on Sergei Parajanov’s The Colour Of Pomegranates, reinterpreted as a lost British classic set in the north of England. “We felt that British life being depicted in such a way has not yet existed. I was thinking of utilising the everyday rituals of modern urban life in the UK and using the tableaux technique deployed by Parajanov. I am always interested in the extraordinary in the ordinary,” says Francesca.

The resulting music and video will be performed in Manchester and Brighton in May, and London in June.

Hideo Ikeezumi 1949–2017

The founder of Japanese label PSF has died aged 67. Words by Alan Cummings

Japanese label and record shop owner Hideo Ikeezumi, founder of PSF Records, has died from complications from stomach cancer. He was 67 years old.

PSF was one of the first Japanese underground labels to create an international reputation. Borrowing its acronym from its first release, High Rise's 1984 album Psychedelic Speed Freaks, PSF documented and promoted the numerous rich seams of Tokyo underground music that had begun to appear in the 1970s. Artists across multiple genres, from psychedelic rock and acid folk to noise and free improvisation, were moving beyond imitation to create fascinating hybrid forms of their own.

Among the artists PSF introduced to the world were Fushitsusha, High Rise, White Heaven, Ghost, Shizuka and Masayoshi Urabe. The label documented the history of Japanese underground music too, releasing important 1970s recordings by guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi, saxophonist Kaoru Abe and bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa, as well as reissuing key early sides by Keiji Haino, Kazuki Tomokawa and Kousokuya. A handful of key non-Japanese artists, including Harry Bertoia, Charles Gayle, Borbetomagus and AMM also had PSF releases.

Hideo Ikeezumi was born in 1949 into a family of professional artists living in the Itabashi district of Tokyo. Fascinated by literature as a child, his musical obsession was first awakened by the triumvirate of bad boy enka singer and actor Akira Kobayashi, rough and scabrous Northern folk singer Kan Mikami and the aforementioned free jazz guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi. Once music sparked for him, he lost interest in studying and chose not to go to university. Instead he spent his time devouring music magazines and taping songs off Japan's first late night radio shows. In 1968, he started work as a buyer for Gobangai, a small chain of Tokyo record shops. The 1970s was a period of expansive growth for record stores in Japan, and Ikeezumi developed an implicit understanding what would sell, regardless of whether he liked it or not.

By the late 70s, Gobangai was carrying records by Japan's first wave of punk labels, but Ikeezumi had decided it was time to strike out on his own. He rented a small shop in the quiet suburb of Meidaimae. An ad for the opening of Modern Music appeared in Fool's Mate rock magazine in 1980, warning readers that the store carried everything "from Pere Ubu to Akira Kobayashi". The shop was a shrine to Ikeezumi's personal obsessions, and he only carried music that he loved, regardless of genre or obscurity. There were bins for free jazz and improvisation, psychedelic rock, contemporary composition, noise, acid folk, lachrymose Japanese enka and traditional rakugo comedy. Much of the stock was imported from the US or Europe, but he also carried any new Japanese releases that he thought worthwhile. When Keiji Haino's debut LP Watashi Dake? was released in 1981, he staggered the label's owner by ordering 50 copies.

The tiny shop with its counter piled high with records, cassettes and CDs became a gathering place, support network and information exchange for underground musicians. Members of Marble Sheep and White Heaven worked there, while others popped in to buy records, chat and drop off fliers for shows. It was an organic progression to setting up the label in 1984. The first releases were by High Rise and Fushitsusha, all of whom were shop customers. The label was followed in 1991 by an irregularly published magazine, called G-Modern. Worldwide changes in music retail led to the shop closing its doors in 2014, though the label continued, with its final releases appearing in 2015.

Ikeezumi will be remembered for the uncommon breadth and the uncompromising force of his personal vision of what music should be. He was always ready with an apposite and enthusiastic recommendation, and for me personally, his generosity, openness and well-honed ears will be sorely missed.

A series of PSF titles will be reissued soon by Black Editions, and a two CD tribute to Ikeezumi, containing unreleased tracks by PSF artists, is due for release by Disk Union/DIW on 24 May.

My Cat Is An Alien to open the Venice Biennale 2017

MCIAA brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio have been invited by Xavier Veilhan and Christian Marclay to activate Studio Venezia

The preview days of Venice Biennale 2017 will this year be opened by Turin duo My Cat Is An Alien. Invited by visual artist Xavier Veilhan and co-curator Christian Marclay to open Xavier Veilhan's Studio Venezia project for the French Pavilion, MCIAA will be working in situ from 10–12 May. The installation in question works as a sculpture-recording studio, an "immersive environment taking in the entire pavilion so as to alter the public's perception of space; a fusion of visual art and music, in the framework of the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College experiences", says Veilhan. MCIAA will have more than 100 instruments at their disposal when they open the event; and other artists such as Éliane Radigue and Nicolas Godin of Air will also be taking part during the exhibition’s seven month run, which for the public starts on 13 May.

Venice Biennale runs from 13 May–26 November.