The Wire: further reading (and listening)

by Steve Watson in May 2011
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The Wire issue 328

I’ve been reading The Wire on and off for years and have always found it a solid (if sometimes a little too serious) music magazine. But just recently it seems to have hit a real purple patch. There’s absolutely no question of it dumbing down (there are still plenty of references to bands I’ve never heard of) but overall the magazine feels crafted more for the interested passer-by than the die-hard fanatic.

I spent a couple of hours reading the June issue yesterday, and woke up thinking about it today. That’s always a good sign, so I thought I’d share a few of my favourite bits:

Composer Simon Fisher Turner on creating a soundtrack for the Captain Scott film, The Great White Silence. “I like the silence, but it’s very difficult to use it when you’ve been commissioned to make music, not silence.”

An overview of the work of Caroline Bergvall, whose recently published book Meddle English describes what she calls ‘Middling English’: “The middle, for her, is a multivalent space that hosts residues of memory, history, song, poetry and politics.”

DJ DVA on the independent spirit that made him want to get away from “boys with their hoods up, stinking of weed”. I’d heard his Jelly Roll before, and the interview has left me wanting to listen to more.

Author Simon Reynolds on his concept of Retromania, “the dominant culture of music in the 21st century, replacing anticipation and spectacular events with always-on availability and superabundance.”

And an insightful interview with Battles, charting the progress of the band’s difficult second album, Gloss Drop. They talk about it being incredibly intense, but also “more of a factory effect… like creating it on an assembly line.” I wonder whether that was the inspiration for the brilliant cover shoot, showing the trio dipped in a series of coloured paints.

Serious, weird, fascinating and funny. I really hope The Wire carries on ploughing this particular furrow.


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