The Wire


David Axelrod has died aged 83

The American composer and producer, sampled by DJ Shadow, J Dilla, Madlib and many more, has died

Born in 1933 in Los Angeles, David Axelrod was an American drummer, producer and composer. He started his musical career in the latter part of the 1950s, producing albums such as jazz musician Harold Land's The Fox. In 1963 he joined Capitol Records working as producer and A&R and in 1968 wrote Mass in F Minor and Release Of An Oath for The Electric Prunes. Around that time, Axelrod started producing solo works, and his first two releases Song Of Innocence (1968) and Songs Of Experience (1969) formed a two-part homage to William Blake. Musician and Wire contributor Kirk Degiorgio, writing in his Hall Of Fame list of his most influential records, described his work as “sparse and moody – heavily reverberated strings mysteriously come and go – and the funky, fatback drumming gives it impetus. Axelrod is one of those great artists who creates music that manages to defy any fixed genre – it straddles rock, classical, jazz and funk.”

As Degiorgio notes, Axelrod's late 60s work was sampled heavily in many hiphop tracks, including by J Dilla, DJ Shadow, Quasimoto, Mos Def and Lil Wayne, who sampled "Holy Thursday" in his track “Mr Carter”. Axelrod's original is below.

Resonance fundraiser taking place this February

The London community arts radio station's annual fundraiser kicks off this month

Resonance FM have announced a programme of events taking place across London between 11–19 February as part of their annual fundraiser.

The list of events includes the station's Resofit standup session at Leicester Square Theatre Soho on 19 February, featuring Daniel Kitson, Tony Law and Stewart Lee, Gwaith Sŵn's Sonic Art Gala (11 February), an “all-star evening of radical sound art, improv & radiophonia” with Rie Nakajima & Ken Ikeda, Phil Minton, Viewfound & Daniel R Wilson, and Dan Linn-Pearl & Paul TQ Freeman (11), Wavelength Roadshow at Kansas Smitty's Hackney (13), William English does a live extended edition of Wavelength with performance artist Bob Parks, Adham Fisher & others, Club Integral Valentine's Day Special at Ikletik featuring 14 acts each playing for 14 minutes and in presentation with Resonance FM's Is Black Music (14), Scratch Orchestra All Stars at Cafe Oto (15), Ulrich Schnauss performing in Lewisham, and much more.

Details of the annual Resonance Auction will be available soon. A full list of events and details (which will continue to be updated throughout February) is available via their website.

John Latham retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery

London’s Serpentine and Flat Time House to hold a major retrospective on the late conceptual artist

London’s Serpentine Gallery has announced a major retrospective of the work of UK conceptual artist John Latham. A World View: John Latham runs from 2 March–21 May and will span his works in sculpture, installation, painting, film, land art, engineering, found-object assemblage, performance and the artist’s theoretical writings. In addition, Flat Time House, John Latham’s studio home in Peckham, South London – a space said by the artist to be a living sculpture in itself – will open to the public, hosting a programme of workshops and events.

David Toop’s article “Brotherhood Of The Bomb” in The Wire 317 analysed the work of Latham, who died in 2006, in the context of postwar Britain, and his many connections to musicians including Joe Harriott and Pink Floyd. In November last year Toop wrote an article on the long rumoured and recently unearthed recordings of Latham and Pink Floyd's 1967 collaboration.

London Improvisers Orchestra take up new residency at Iklectik

Longrunning spontaneous ensemble to become regulars at the South London venue

London Improvisers Orchestra have begun a new residency in the capital. Every first Sunday of the month the spontaneous big band will be performing at South London free music institution Iklectik. The LIO began nearly two decades ago, under the guidance of Steve Beresford, Ian MacGowan and Evan Parker, among many others, and in the years since numerous significant improvisors have emerged from the group.

Forthcoming events at Iklectik also include a screening of Eddie Prévost's Blood by Stewart Morgan which will be followed by a Q&A with Prévost on 25 February, Mark Cunningham's Blood Quartet on 15 April, and as part of The Engine Room project, Philip Jeck will perform on 11 May.

Stewart Smith co-edits special edition of The Drouth

Wire contributor and Elodie Roy guest edit the Scottish literary quarterly

The Wire contributor Stewart Smith has guest co-edited a music-themed issue of Scottish literary quarterly The Drouth. Contributions come from The Wire’s Frances Morgan, in conversation with Claire Biddles about feminist and queer music writing, fandom and publishing, and Jon Dale on Scottish DIY in the post-punk era. Smith himself has written on ancient resonances in Hanna Tuulikki and Drew Mulholland’s recent projects, and there’s a mapping of interwar Glasgow through gramophone record sleeves by co-editor Elodie Roy. “Drouth means thirst, by the way,” Stewart explains.

The Drouth #57 will be available via the website soon.

New sublabel from Superior Viaduct

The new imprint says it will focus on “unconventional sounds from truly unique artists.”

Archive specialist Superior Viaduct has announced a new sublabel called États-Unis, a “limited edition series that comes out in batches once or twice a year”. The first chunk of releases is a compilation of experimental sound artists from San Francisco in 1959 called Highlights Of Vortex, the 1961 debut from early electronic music pioneer Tod Dockstader Eight Electronic Pieces, Berlin performance art punks Die Tödliche Doris’s 1982 debut “ ”, Joe Jones’s In Performance, and LAFMS affiliate Le Forte Four’s Bikini Tennis Shoes.

The label is up and running now, with each release coming limited to 500 editions and pressed on clear vinyl. They've also made all five releases available at the special price of $95.

Jazz Photographer Chuck Stewart has died

The photographer who famously shot John Coltrane's A Love Supreme recording session died on 20 January aged 89

Jazz Photographer Chuck Stewart died on 20 January aged 89. Born in Henrietta, Texas, Charles Hugh Stewart was raised in Tucson, Arizona. His career spanned over 70 years, which, by his estimate, had him take photographs for more than 2000 albums, including a substantial portion of the jazz catalogues of Impulse!, Mercury, Reprise and Verve Records. He famously documented the recording of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, and his work has been used in various books, magazines, films, documentaries and personal collections. He photographed James Brown, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Eric Dolphy, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Quincy Jones, Machito, Max Roach, Frank Sinatra, and many others. Stewart’s photography was exhibited at Jazz at Lincoln Center; it was also collected in a book called Chuck Stewart’s Jazz Files, published by Da Capo Press.

rkss releases Brostep In The Style Of Florian Hecker

An ode to Florian Hecker’s 2009 release Acid In The Style Of David Tudor is out now on Conditonal

rkss aka Robin Buckley has released Brostep In The Style Of Florian Hecker, his ode to Florian Hecker’s 2009 release Acid In The Style Of David Tudor. The release “investigates the similarities of brostep with Hecker’s work such as Sun Pandämonium (2003)”, explains Buckley, who goes on to describe it as “an eight channel electroacoustic composition that challenges ideas of economic and cultural values within sound art and contemporary computer music”.

It will be available digitally as a stereo mixdown of each individual channel, plus four different stereo pairs. There are also some limited edition lanyards to bag and a free video game made for Mac, Linux and Windows, through which the player can experience the piece in a VR university dorm room where the piece was apparently constructed.

rkss’s Brostep In The Style Of Florian Hecker is released by Conditional.

Buzzcocks reissues on Domino mark the 40th anniversary of their first single

Domino Records follow the reissue of Buzzcocks’ first recordings with a boxset in March

Domino Records have reissued the Buzzcocks EP Spiral Scratch, marking 40 years since its original release. In Addition, Time’s Up, the infamous bootleg of the group’s 1976 demos featuring the original line-up of Howard Devoto, Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle, and John Maher, will be released by Domino on 10 March alongside the Buzzcocks MK.1 Box, containing vinyl and CD versions of both releases, plus reprints of rare graphic material including Shy Talk Fanzine No 4, various postcard flyers, posters and more.

Spiral Scratch was initially pressed in a run of 1000 and sold for £1 a pop. It went on to sell 16,000 copies in the six months following its release. It is available now as a limited edition 7".

New modular synth about to hit the market

Dirty Electronics’ John Richards and graphic designer Jack Featherstone have created a new hand held synth

A new hand held synth called Polytik is about to go public. The hybrid analogue/digital device was designed by Dirty Electronics’ John Richards and designer Jack Featherstone in collaboration with Artists & Engineers production and technology studio. It will be available as four separate colour-coded modules: blue (Core) is a sequencer, programmer and mixer; red (VCO) features voltage controlled feedback and voltage controlled oscillator; black (combi) features the same as red and includes filtering; and yellow (noise) has a noise generator, patchable feedback networks as well as VCF.

“Polytik is born out of a DIY ethos and the maker community,” state the manufacturers. “It uses open-source hardware and encourages users to make new modules and hacks, but Polytik has been crafted into something very different – a series of beautifully designed objects in their own right.”

The Core module is loaded with 30 pre-programmed sequences and more modules can be added. Furthermore there is a Golden Chip special edition pack which comes with an additional 20 sequences programmed by John Richards and a further 10 sequences with interviews and comments embedded in the code from musicians and artists including: Simian Mobile Disco, Mark Fell, Frieder Nake and Nik Colk Void & Gabe Gurnsey aka Factory Floor. The first modules will be available to buy this spring and available for pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign set for launch on 31 January. London Modular will also hold workshops with the synths. Details yet to be confirmed.