Welcome to the final Newsletter of 1995 which includes our exclusive interview with Bruce Gilbert. What a busy year it has been and 1996 is not going to be any quieter with our release schedule going into over-drive! Four (count'em) are due! Although the results from the first year of our Mail Order operations were less than stellar, the support and enthusiasm of our subscribers has strengthened our resolve to persist further with the Mail Order and with our own venture into the costly disc market, WMO. 1996 and its new releases should raise our profile considerably! We hope that Wire Mail Order offers real value for money for all fans of Wire etc... Let's hope our second full year is as productive and interesting as the last. Keep those letters coming. We do like feedback. Finally, a few price changes in the Merchandise List. Although our dealers have risen their prices over the last few months, Wire Mail Order has reduced the prices of Budget Price CD's.
As logical as Jimmy the Goose
As reported in Bulletin Four we are now stocking the UK Erasure single, Fingers & Thumbs (CDMUTE 178) which feature the Wir version Figures in Crumbs. Wir in fact found a couple sections of interest to them from the original track and proceeded to play live over the top, with the idea that Andy Bell would join them on vocals. Andy opted to keep some of the original vocal from the track instead. Producer Gareth Jones was then left to tidy the track up and mix it as it appears. Meanwhile for those of you still unsure about buying the Wir/Hafler Trio The First Last Number 12", here's what Touch themselves have written for their 1995 catalogue: "The Hafler Trio remix The First Letter, an unreleased Wir track from 1991. In fact 'remix' is not the right word, but there you go. Wire had written The First Letter some time after the release of their album of the same name had been recorded and the song went through several mutations before it resurfaced as part of a broadcast on Austrian radio. The group had also demo-ed the song at Mute's own studio and used it as part of the I SAW YOU performances—The Hafler Trio took these various versions and using samples from Wire CD's from Pink Flag onwards, performed this curious surgery. Close in spirit but beyond Plunderphonics..."
A hastily site specific installation was made by Bruce Gilbert on 5th October Upstairs at the Garage in support of Panasonic. Entitled Birdog the installation was housed in the small dressing room behind the stage area. The sound of a dog's unremitting bark welcomed visitors into the dimly lit room. Upon further scrutiny the barking came from small speakers placed within a number of bird boxes nailed upon the walls. With a few chairs placed around the room it made a very peaceful and autumnal refuge from the Sahko DJing and Panasonic performance held in the main room. As reported in Newsletter Five and Bulletin Four, Bruce recently made a shed performance supporting Panasonic and Non (Boyd Rice) at the Astoria London, on September 29th. Kevin Eden filed this report from the gig:
"Like the chance meeting of an umbrella and a sewing machine on a dissecting table. Perhaps one way to describe the incongruous site of Bruce Gilbert inside a common garden shed. This gig more than proved that Bruce can hold his own when it comes to providing new and exciting performances. Working inside the garden shed on his pedals, effects and other 'tools' all one can see is the occasional sight of him shuffling around with his light-pen. However, the use of strobe lights inside the shed, triggered when his 'noises' touch certain frequencies, gives the effect that Bruce is working away on his lathe with sparks flying around the shed. Grinding, bumping, screeching, grating, churning and more. Bruce's music is indescribable. He is not out to perform a 'set'. It's a bare canvas that is painted in real-time. Sometimes the outcome can be confused and erratic, but these past two gigs have seen him add some new colors to his palette. Top!"
Panasonic invited Bruce to appear on their John Peel session, broadcast 17th November. When asked what his contribution involved he replied, "I twiddled a few knobs". As reported previously, Bruce's 7" single for Sub-Pop's Instant Shed Vol. 1: Bi-Yo-Yo b/w Byo(sachet) is now in stock. A rather whimsical review appeared in the 28th October edition of N.M.E. The 2CD set Mesmer Variations which features exclusively recorded tracks by Bruce and Edvard, amongst a host of other artists, is available in limited quantities. Please inquire first.
Finally, Bruce's Ab Ovo album (CDSTUMM 117) is released by Mute on 29th January 1996 (CD only), as is a limited edition picture disc promo 12", Ab Ovo Remixes. The Mail Order will be holding stocks of both! We can confirm that Ab Ovo is not like any of Bruce's previous albums but closer in spirit to the style of DJing he has adopted as The Beekeeper. And The Singing Pier is wonderful. The final regular monthly Disobey took place at its usual venue, Upstairs at the Garage, Highbury Corner, London, on 14th December. However for those unable to attend, Radio 3's Mixing It held a 'virtual' Disobey on 11th December with The Beekeeper and others making an appearance live on air. If we say a blank C-90 plus a buck... you know what we mean!
For those trying to obtain the H.A.L.O album and singles from their local outlets should note that distribution in the UK has changed from Vital to Cargo. Having said that WMO still holds stocks of all three items.
No new releases from the Swim this year as they are in the process of changing their distribution. However, new 12" singles from Immersion, Second Immersion and g-Man, L jem are promised in the new year. More news when we have it. Colin's solo album has been put on the back burner until 1996. Meanwhile, the Cusp Space + Time, Liquids + Metals CD has been released and is a very fine one at that. See the Merchandise List for changes in the Swim catalogue. Colin's six-minute radio snippet on all things Wire-ish was broadcast back in September as part of Radio One's Soundbites program. Anyone who missed it and wanting to hear it should send a blank cassette and $1.00 and all will be revealed. Colin has kindly filed this report from the recent Viennese jaunt that Swim made as part of the Phonotaktik Festival. And as you will read it all went err... swimmingly!
Swimming the Danube—Vienna
10/20-21/95 with DJ Morpheus, Pablo's Eye, Immersion, Mark Gage, Lobe and g-Man. "We all arrived (barring Gez Varley) from our various locations on the 20th allowing us to get first site of our venue: a boat, anchored in the fast flowing Danube near to the city center. It was a good sized affair normally used a restaurant an venue for waltz concerts (I kid you not!) fitted out in the kitchy, retro style one presumes finds favor with the good burgers of Vienna and their stout companions!
The sound check proceeded with a few minor hiccups—Ian Hartley (Lobe) thought he'd suffered equipment failure but a new power supply took care of it, and Immersion had to be rescued by the "A-Team" from MEGO records when we got a bit confused by the hired sampler. Samy Birnbach was on the phone, Axel and Dirk (Pablo's Eye) were there and Mark Gage was asleep in his hotel room, after over-nighting it from the USA. But still no Gez!
He finally arrived as we were all setting off to the hotel, cheerful but minus his sampler! Due to a strike at Brussels Airport he'd been relocated to Lauda Airlines, but his luggage hadn't! With protests of "Nikki Lauda stole my sampler" we set off to the hotel while the waltz concert took place. A snap decision was taken that g-Man would DJ on the first night and play live on the second. The small matter of some records was quickly taken care of and we all set off to the venue. DJ Morpheus (Samy Birnbach) opened the proceedings with a mix of lush and weird records. Lots of familiar faces in the audience including Bruce Gilbert, in Vienna with Disobey. As the place filled up it was time for Pablo's Eye's first gig in 15 years! With just Axel, and live drumming from Dirk, they proved what a force they're becoming. Their Swim album, promised for next year (1996) will be something very special. Dirk was immediately recruited by Paul Schutze (also in the audience) for his collaboration with Bill Laswell.
Samy 'hit the decks' once more and then Immersion were on. Our first gig ever! We played live, on the same keyboard, along with our own preprogrammed beats. The place was packed, I sweat buckets and didn't look up once: being far too nervous. However, they say the audience danced and that we got a lot of compliments from all and sundry.
Next up Mark Gage (Vapourspace, Cusp...). It always amazes me how artists when they DJ often sound like themselves. So it proved with Mark. Then came Lobe. Ian's music has a mesmeric, sad, yet impossibly beautiful quality. In a state of heightened awareness—too many beers and the sheer relief that all was going well—he moved me to tears.
Then g-Man hit the turntables and whilst Gez and Ian produce music of a very different kind they both share the ability to get directly to the emotions, circumventing the ordinary critical brain. The following day Gez's sampler finally arrived. The second venue was a street built two floors underground which was, allegedly, some kind of ?-hole for the royals. It had the acoustics of an underground station.
The lineup was pretty star studded and was the final night of the festival. Paul Schutze DJed followed by Plaid, a bit more Schutze. Then Bedouin Ascent and finally g-Man. With one drum machine, one sampler and two effects it started a little faltering but it as it wore on it became much faster, harder and well more in-yer-face than on record. He drove the audience mad. At a strategic point a Mr. Gilbert, in a piece of potentially legendary theater, offered Gez a glass of schnapps! He had spent most of the weekend plying Gez with drink in order to secure him for a Central European Disobey! After that we were all done. Roll on the next one when Mark promises to play live. Brilliant!"
A second report of these events, by Ben Wilmont, was printed in the N.M.E. of 18th November as was Gez Varley's own "10 with Vibes" list.
As reported in bulletin Four orders for both the P'O and Michael O'Shea reissues have been temporarily suspended due to These Records removal to new premises and their attempts in obtaining the MZUI master tape. It is hoped that all three will be released simultaneously in the new year. But until such time that we receive confirmation of any real movement on this front we have removed these items form our Merchandise List. All orders already received will, of course, be honored and dispatched when they arrive in stock. Alternately, if you wish to get credit or a refund, please write.
Most of you may know about the recently released version of Outdoor Miner by 'lo-fi post-rock psychedelicists' Flying Saucer Attack (that's Melody maker for you!). Although no official word form Wire, we here at WMO think it rather splendid! A shame we didn't know about it when compiling Whore. Anyway, we can now reveal the fill extent of our secrecy. Compiled by Kevin S. Eden and Charles K. Snider for WMO, this 21 track CD should raise a few smiles and surprises. Unlike most other so-called 'tributes' the majority of the artists took our brief to treat Whore with the disrespect it deserves and to totally reinvent the song of their choice. Even those versions that remain 'faithful' still have a twist to them.
Anyway, here is the list of artists on the CD: aMiniature, Band Of Susans, Bark Psychosis, Chris Connelly, The Ex-Lion Tamers, Fudge Tunnel, Godflesh, Kustomized, Laika, Lush, Main, Carl Marks, My Bloody Valentine, The Petty Tyrants, Polar Bear, Lee Ranaldo, Resolution, Scanner, Spasm, Transformer, and Mike Watt.
These artists will be covering the following songs: A Mutual Friend, A Question Of Degree, A Serious Of Snakes, Ahead, Being Sucked In Again, Eardrum Buzz, Eastern Standard, 40 Versions, Fragile, German Shepherds, It's A Boy, Lowdown, Mannequin, Map Ref. 41N 93W, On Returning, 12XU, Outdoor Miner, Our Swimmer, The 15th, Three Girl Rhumba, and Used To.
Whore Various Artists Play Wire (WMO 2CD) will be released at the end of February 1996 on the WMO label via Vital distribution in the UK and Europe and Caroline in North America. A special notice will be sent out in due course giving further details.
As if it had a cause...
As if further proof was needed of Wire's status, the American magazine SPIN has recently published its Alternative Rock Guide and in it's 'Top 100 Albums Of All Time' was listed Pink Flag at a respectable No. 12. Well, what can you say? (And you can say that too!)
Newsletter Seven will be out in March. Interviews planned for next year are Desmond Simmons, Mike Thorne, Paul Kendall and John Bonnar. Bulletin Five will go out in February. Until then bah humbug!
Thanks to the unusual crowd who helped us through 1995.
This newsletter first published in 1995.
Bulletin: February 1996
Happy New Year and all of that! First off a word on subscriptions—we are forgoing subscriptions this year. As long as you order, write, or at least show interest, you will continue to receive our quarterly newsletter in the mail. The Internet version is free and more frequent. All Newsletters and Bulletins are archived on our website (see elsewhere... or here?).
This item should be with us shortly as release is set worldwide for March 5th, 1996. If you are inquiring with your favorite local record shop (and we hope you do!) please mention that distribution in the US and Canada is with Caroline. UK and Europe distribution is with Vital. For your convenience, it is now listed in the Merchandise List as well. US magazines 'Alternative Press, ICE, CMJ Monthly' are to have features on the Whore album whilst in the UK 'The Wire' is to make it an 'Album Of The Month' for March as well as making it their free CD for new subscribers.
What the papers said
The March edition of the American magazine 'CMJ (College Music Journal) New Music Monthly', is to hold an extensive Wire feature within its covers along with information on WMO. A sampler CD which comes free with every edition will include Desmond Simmon's Counterpane on this month's CD. We are hoping to obtain copies for sale through our Merchandise List and will give you details in Newsletter Seven. Also due for publication is the complete transcript of the interview we printed with Bruce Gilbert. This will appear in both the American magazine 'i/e' and the English quarterly 'The Empty Quarter'. Graham's H.A.L.O interview that we first published extracts from in Newsletter Four will also appear in its entirety along with a new interview with Colin in 'i/e', which will sport a Wire front cover as well.
What we said
Given that Whore" (WMO 2CD) is soon to be unleashed on the unexpecting public with their somewhat biased opinion of so-called 'tribute' albums, here's our somewhat biased take on it:
"Whore (pronounced "who-er" not "hoar") is NOT a tribute album, rather it is a compilation of various artists reinterpreting Wire material. The initial concept behind the project was to create a release sympathetic to the WMO catalog; thus the distinction of "whore." The artists were given an open invitation to contribute any Wire track—our role was simply to compile what they delivered. There is no singular reason for contacting the artists we did: At some point we became aware of Wire as an influence on them, either in print or in music. However, in contrast to the current crop of British bands (you know who you are etc...) that have 'appropriated' Wire, the influences here are hopefully more indirect and subtle—which of course is the only type Wire would approve of! But this is not to say the CD does not contain 'straight versions' of Wire songs either. Similarly, we are sure that you will find material both amusing and annoying, classic and disposable; but we hope you will agree that it is all veracious and unique. The design and images were specifically commissioned for the CD. The booklet also features short essays from many of the artists on Wire, it's influence and their track. The whore project was a unique undertaking for WMO. But in short, it is what it is!"
Mute has decided in its wisdom to push back the release dates of both the Ab Ovo 12" and CD. The 12" picture disc is to be released on February 15th and the CD of March 11th. All orders received will, of course, be honored when stocks arrive.
Just in from Colin and Malka is the new Immersion 12", 2nd Immersion. Further releases planned for the spring are the new g-Man 12" g-Man II and 12" released from Ronnie & Clyde and Pablo's Eye. Albums from g-Man, Lobe, and Pablo's Eye are also promised, and hopefully Mr. Newman himself. Progress on this inches forward... slowly. So don't hold your breath! More news of these releases when we have it.
Whilst doing our end of year accounts we decided to tot up the best Mail Order sellers from both UK and US Mail Orders (excluding WMO label releases) and here's what we came up with for the Top 10:
- H.A.L.O—The Fear Grows (CD single)
- Colin Newman—Voice (12")
- Wire—Behind The Curtain
- H.A.L.O—Eclipsed (CD single)
- Wir/Hafler Trio—The First Last Letter (12")
- Wir—So And Slow (CD single)
- Wire—Drill (In Every City?) (7")
- Bruce Gilbert—Instant Shed Vol. 1 (7")
Newsletter Seven is due in March with an exclusive interview with Desmond Simmons. In the meantime, please let us know your thoughts, comments, etc... on Whore and anything else you'd like to go on about!
This Bulletin was first published in 1996.