Right from their inception in 1976, back in the first stirrings of punk, Wire went about making music in a subversive, conceptual way, setting themselves apart from both their peers and their
“I had this idea that I wanted to avoid things that had a particular kind of tradition,” explains singer and guitarist Colin Newman. “I thought the three-chord trick was too simplistic and that the one-chord trick would be better. Or the two chord trick where the second chord is definitely not the right chord.”
Bass guitarist and vocalist Graham Lewis identifies another trait that has run throughout the group’s lifetime. “People said we were mysterious, arch and dark. But the only way of doing that successfully, is by also having a sense of humour. You have to have that balance. With Wire there’s a peculiarity, a contrariness and that can be funny."
This questing approach has permeated Wire’s songwriting, their onstage presentation, even the decision, back in the 80s, for Robert Grey to strip his drumkit down to just bass drum, snare and
hi-hat. And it has served them well in guarding against repetition and cliché. In context, Wire’s last album, 2013’s aptly titled Change Becomes Us was another case of “Expect the unexpected”, as it found them extensively reworking a rich cache of material abandoned amid a temporary break-up in the early 80s.
Their 13th studio album - simply titled Wire – comprises material that was written with the album in mind, but toured extensively first, as well as songs that Newman introduced to the group in the studio just prior to recording. The idea was to get the most spontaneous reaction possible from the musicians, and far from the rough and ready results one might expect from such a tack, Wire is full of swooning pop melodies with a 60s tinge and an irresistible, near motorik rhythmicmomentum. One can recognise certain melodic inflections, guitar and bass motifs, and drum rhythms from Wire’s idiosyncratic vocabulary but it has a remarkable freshness.
The basic tracks were recorded at Rockfield Studios near Monmouth, with overdubs added at Brighton Electric last December following the group’s DRILL : BRIGHTON Festival. The 11 tracks selected for release were the ones that came together most naturally.
From the outset Wire was an alliance between four very different characters and continues today with the addition, in 2012, of It Hugs Back guitarist Matthew Simms, who is around thirty years
younger than the other group members. “With Matt there was a really new dynamic that had appeared in the group’s sound and that was something we wanted to capture, utilise and be creative with,” says Lewis.
Wire is the first album where Simms has been involved in formulating the material from the ground up, but when the group’s particular chemistry starts working he is now very much part of
“With ‘Sleepwalking’, I don’t think we even ran all the way through it before we recorded it. ”Newman says. “Wire do this thing so well and there’s instant atmosphere. There’s my rhythm guitar, Matt playing lap steel, Graham (Lewis) playing bass with effects – there’s as much effects as bass - and Rob’s tolling drumming. It was already almost sustainable for six minutes with just that.”
Lewis also provides most of the lyrics for the album, their subject matter encompassing love songs, cryptic narratives and coded messages. One time, Newman asked Lewis to send over some unfinished, unformatted text so he wouldn’t be bound by what to use for the chorus. This material spawned two songs written on the same day, ‘Split Your Ends’ and the droll ‘In Manchester’. The latter has one of the album’s loveliest melodies, but it’s no coded paean to the city in its Baggy heyday. Instead this process led to the disorientating and rather absurd situation of having “In Manchester” as a soaring chorus, when the song is not about Manchester beyond a single line in the lyric.
As the album progresses, some of the sunlit pop tunes become more shadowy and it ultimately plunges into the musical black hole of ‘Harpooned’, eight churning minutes of the group’s darkest, most abrasive music to date, and a favourite in live performances since 2013.
Big money offers have been made to Wire to become part of the Heritage Rock industry, to get the original line-up back together and play only 70s music. These have all been unequivocally
turned down. Fun though that might be, why plant yourself firmly back in the past when you are making new music this potent with the promise of more in the future?
“The point where our personal narratives meet is all about change - moving on and keeping it interesting for ourselves,” says Newman. “We’re in it for the long haul and this is a one-way trip.”
Wire will be launched by the fourth event in the band's DRILL series entitled DRILL : LEXINGTON - five nights (14-18 April) at the Lexington in London with Wire headlining, plus a different
"curated" support each night. This will be followed by a UK tour. Further non-UK dates & events will be announced soon.
Have You In My Wilderness is Julia Holter's most intimate album yet, a collection of radiant ballads. Her follow-up to 2013's widely celebrated Loud City Song explores love, trust, and power in human relationships. While love songs are familiar fodder in pop music, Holter manages to stay fascinatingly oblique and enigmatic on her new album.
Have You in My Wilderness is also Holter's most sonically intimate album. Here, she and producer Cole Marsden Greif-Neill lift her voice out of the layers of smeared, hazy effects, putting her vocals front and center in the mix. The result is striking—it sounds as if Holter is singing right in your ear. It sounds clear and vivid, but also disarmingly personal. The focused warm sound and instrumentation — dense strings, subtle synth pads — adds to the effect.
Like Holter's previous albums, Have You in My Wilderness is multi-layered and texturally rich, featuring an array of electronic and acoustic instruments played by an ensemble of gifted Los Angeles musicians.
Have You In My Wilderness deals with dark themes, but it also features some of the most sublime and transcendent music Holter has ever written. The ten songs on the album are shimmering and dreamlike, wandering the liminal space between the conscious and the subconscious.
Once and Future Band
Announcing CF-083 Once and Future Band
In the vapor trail of "How Does It Make You Feel" you can smell the burnt ozone of a seventies-full-orchestra-nebula-pop-odyssey, the flakes floating down and landing on you like snow and giving you the grave-chills…the ash of a masterpiece pop song. Once and Future Band: this incredibly accomplished cabal of total prog wizards has circled the earth, but then, these are the accomplished gentlemen of many former pursuits (the formidable Drunk Horse among them) and all of them comets themselves. The very mid 70s vibe at work here surpasses pastiche, and crests that lovely anachronistic conceptual peak: a fully realized and meticulously arranged psych record, meant to be listened to from top to bottom, with the lights down low and in a comfy chair perhaps, or while gazing out the window of your life pod. A Dark Side of the Moon feel, with shades of early Yes's technicality, a dash of Steely Dan's vocal prowess and effortless sheen, and some seriously outsized hooks that call to mind the mighty ELO, Le Orme and yes, even the unsinkable Queen powered on Brian May's tape echo jet fuel and sequined power cells…this is a head record in the classic sense but we swear to The Dark One that you will be trapped and infected by the pop-parasite. That it is largely self-produced (with tracking/engineering on three of the songs by Phil Manley at El Studio) makes it all the more jaw dropping. We didn't realize how much we needed Once and Future Band in our life, but now that they're here we can't get them out of our brains or off of our stereo. Making prog cool again, again, and then slightly more complicatedly, again.
Los Angeles Duo Youth Code are raw, punishing, industrious electronics built from the seeds of hardcore and early Wax Trax. Ryan William George and Sara Taylor blend chaos with catchy dance undertones to create a sonic fury paralleled to none. Formed in 2012, Using all hardware to perform, Youth Code have already proven their path with being the first band outside of Psychic TV to be put out by PTV's own label " Angry Love Productions " as well as a full length LP on the flawless Dais Records roster due out this summer.