Wire’s 100 Records that set the world on fire while no one was listening. 66 – 70
We’re in the 1980’s now with this wire post, and as you will see from the list, what pop is just starting to pick up, avant-garde was done with in the late 1970’s. It’s an exciting time for music with the sophistication of the electronic sounds. I’m all abuzz writing this to find out that Konrad Becker has written a bunch of books. I did not know that. Needless to say little girlie wants! On my journey to grab as much of his writing as possible – so even now, after I have listened to and loved all these albums I learn something new from examining this list. It just keeps on giving – what can I say. It’s a great collection of tunes I have here for you in this post. We’ll swing by to check out what a little slice of Guinea was up to at the time as well. The music coming out of Africa is not to be ignored – even with the concept albums.
Tim Souster was meant to be included 2 posts ago, but I managed to get myself out of synch and this resulted in one of the best albums being left (but only for a wee while) off the list. For someone so incredibly important to the world of music, there isn’t a lot written about him. In the late 1960s Souster began experimenting with electronics. His first acknowledged composition involving electronic techniques was Titus Groan Music (1969) for wind quintet, ring modulator, amplifiers and tape. In August of the same year he moved to King’s College, Cambridge and formed a live-electronic group with Roger Smalley, Andrew Powell and Robin Thompson called Intermodulation. As well as compositions by Souster and Smalley, the group performed contemporary music by Cardew, Riley, Rzewski, Stockhausen and Wolff. The album highlighted is an eclectic collection of TV themes and bits and bobs that I couldn’t find a link for, so I added an UBER cool concert for your pleasure. Check it and love it.
Lubricate Your Living Room
This album is so cool its hot. Fire Engines are a post-punk band from Edinburgh, Scotland. The band was a part of the same literary art-punk scene as the Scars and their most famous contemporaries, Josef K. They grew out of the Dirty Reds which had actor Tam Dean Burn as singer. Vocals and guitar were performed by David (Davey) Henderson, guitar by Murray Slade, bass by Graham Main, and on drums, Russell Burn. The Fire Engines were noted for “Get Up And Use Me”/”Everything’s Roses”, and singles and LPs in 1981. Sometimes I love post-punk even more than punk itself. check out what The Wire have to say about this album: This mini-album offers the freshest of the various inspired rethinks of the electric guitar that came out of post-punk Scotland. Guitarists Davey Henderson and Murray Slade spooled off writhing, dissonant lines of energy that spoke of obsession and entanglement. The music claimed the riff back from bad rock – all the pieces work on nagging, repeated bass and guitar lines. But there was no truck with regular rock rhythms – the group rode on the tightly wound, oddly paced bounce of Russell Burns’s snare hits. Henderson’s vocals are frequently shrieks (“Get up!): the ‘songs’ are essentially guitar instrumentals. The group’s interest in the warping neuroses of consumerism was reflected in the packaging (the record came in a plastic carrier bag) and titles such as “Plastic Gift” and “New Thing In Cartons.” Listening back to the lo-fi, ‘live in the studio’ approach, it’s striking what an unusual sound the group achieved – the harsh, electrifying prickle of the guitars (Rickenbackers, as I recall) and the trashy fatness of the drums. Speedy, delirious and unrepeatable.
Le Nimba De N’ Zerekore
Gon Bia Bia
You want enthusiasm? You want to escape from the banalities of life? Check this out. I DARE you to not feel great after a listen to a track on this great album. I’m referring to The Wire‘s notes a bit in this post (sorry – you know usually I throw the heat for my music love) but the notes are so cool. Check this out: “Ce disque est une page d’ethnologie,” say the breathless sleevenotes. And this is how I like my ethnology kamikaze kit drumming, delirious wailing saxes and something called ‘chant telephone’ – a growling singing used to embody the spirits of the initiation forest. In post-independence Guinea, regional orchestras were set up to sing the praises of the ruling party while providing culturally ‘authentic’ dance music – one of the pleasanter side effects of Sekou Toure’s thoroughly nasty dictatorship. While the dominant strain was Mande music (well known from Salif Keita, Bembeya Jazz and the like), Le Nimba from N’Zerekore, a rusting market town in Guinea’s forested south east highlands, mixed Mande and Cuban sounds with the songs and rhythms of the Kpelle, Kono and Toma peoples. Supposedly retracing the stages of male initiation, this could be seen as an African concept album. But what gets you going is the wild rhythms booting along spiky guitar melodies, call and response vocals and some blasting saxes. A truly mad record.
Nancy Sesay & the Melodaires
Take everything you know shouldn’t go together and stick it in a blender. That’s the best way to describe this uber album torn from the tortured souls of – well anyone in a ten-mile radius that would stand still long enough really. The results – an absolute masterpiece. Basically its the vehicle for Jim Whelton/Amos/L Voag of the Homosexuals/Milk From Cheltenham ,and various buddies to let their creative juices run riot; The first fruits of which is this outing, a non-metronomic sub-jazz , falling down funk syncopated art damaged masterpiece,that conforms for no-one. Featuring the Treacle Singers,and executively produced by The Dandy Horses, I think you know what you’ve let yourselves in for. On the title track, Sesay sings at so high a pitch as to be incomprehensible. A boozy male chorus chips in now and then. The bassline swings and pulls together numberless elements – concrete, doowop, vaudeville even – which your brain tells you shouldn’t fit. The ending has an a cappella reprise of the song swallowed by a deafening, all-encompassing death-ray whine. Incredible. The flipside just deepens the mystery – what is going on? In the apocalyptic “Ballad Of Hong Kong”, manic stereo panning of percussion over horror movie loops gives way to an Ivor Cutleresque interlude, which leads swiftly into a distended ska chorus and then fades into very slowed down piano – Sesay all the while singing her heart out. if you want more (and who wouldn’t) Wire have a download offer that may or may not be live. But here’s a little tip from me to you – a Google search will give you what you want – fast!
Is Konrad Becker the coolest person alive? The answer to this all important question is a resounding yes. Konrad Becker is a hypermedia researcher and interdisciplinary content developer, Director of the Institute for New Culture Technologies/t0 and initiator of Public Netbase and World-Information.Org. Since 1979 he has been active in electronic media as an artist, writer, composer, curator, producer and organizer of numerous intermedia productions, exhibitions, and event designs for international festivals and cultural institutions. He has published media works, electronic audiovisuals and theoretical texts, lectured and held positions at various universities, and participated in conferences and symposia. His second album Monotonprodukt 07, a double, is so alive with the pulses that triggered many Electronicas to come, from Techno through Trance to Mego’s creeping static. In other words he’s deeply important. The Wire suggest we make a case for his guru status. Despite this album’s being a precursor to almost everything electronic, it continues to have the edge over any following. Adopting an imperious art stance towards mainstreams and margins alike, Becker cast a cold analytic eye over Electronica’s urfathers, picking up on Suicide’s jittertronic urgency, if not their melodrama, and DAF’s throbbing sequencers, but with the sex threat removed, which he patched into his own crackling circuits, hissing vistas and tumbling beatstreams. Baisically, the man and his album are legend.