It has been 8 months since my conversion, since
that glorious night
at The Echo where i witnessed the purest punk show i have ever
seen. Since then i have listened to much Wire, but i have, in
typical PostLibyan procrastinating fashion, not yet reviewed
any. Until now.
Read & Burn is ostensibly to be a series of EPs
from Wire. They want to capture the immediacy of musical creation,
so the songs are written, performed, recorded, read into a digital
medium, and then burned to CD. Minimal overdubs or post-production
is used. (Which tells me that Wire learned from the mistakes
they made with 1990's bloated Manscape. Good for
them.) It is a nice idea, and the results, in this case, work
for the most part.
Read & Burn 01 is the first recorded testament
of Wire Part 3, and it consists of 6 songs. The first song,
In The Art of Stopping screams "Wire are back!" from
the get go. Grinding guitars and hard monotonous beats fly by
loud and fast, with vocalist Colin Newman's voice fractured
and distorted. "Trust me," he bellows into the distortion, as
the drums thud like some sort of industrial machine, and the
guitars are a blaring whirr of sound. This is loud and fast
I Don't Understand sounds like the title of a song that
is either angry or sad. Wire, of course, are angry. This is
a little poppier than the previous tune, and the drums are slightly
funkier, but the guitar is still a fuzzed out mess, and Newman
screams the title over and over. I know that emotion -- sometimes
things make so little sense that all you can do is repeat that
events are incomprehensible. I really like this song.
The third track, Comet, features a great drum rhythm.
It's almost funky, and in a way it reminds me of the rhythms
used by Midnight Oil on some of their earlier work, like Red
Sails in the Sunset. Some sort of primal drumbeat, something
that seems primitive and "world music-esque" in a
very subtle way. At any rate, this is the first song on the
EP where Colin Newman doesn't sound furious. He is actually
singing here, and it is good.
The beat gets even funkier on Germ Wise, which is the
closest this version of Wire are getting to the dance floor.
Otherwise, the general themes of Read & Burn 01
are continued here in the fuzzy guitar and great bass riffing.
In this instance Newman is not a dominating force in the song,
giving only subtle vocals buried in the mix and a bit of screaming
at the end.
1st Fast reminds me of In The Art of Stopping
in general structure, although here Newman is singing not screaming.
It moves along at the same pace, but is not so angry. It's decent,
but i prefer the other.
And finally we have the cryptically titled The Agfers of
Kodack. This song sounds foreign to me, and it also sounds
intentionally so. The drums are flattened, and Newman is singing
as if describing something very far away that i could never
understand. The overall feel i get from the song is one of confusion.
However, it is an insanely catchy song, and when the backing
vocals join in it becomes wonderful. I like this song, a lot.
So there you go. In general Read & Burn 01 is
a great work by a talented band. It is very well recorded, and
it does sound immediate and alive in a way that a lot of highly
produced studio music does not.
However, i must contract this EP with the
second of the series. In that comparison, this EP sounds
"rawer", more primal. I mean that in a good way of course, since
it stems from sheer emotional content, but there is also a slight
sense of "getting reacquainted with the technology". Any band
that records itself has to have a certain degree of understanding
of recording technology, and i am sure that this tech has changed
significantly in the 10 years since Wire last recorded. So they
are emotionally raw, and they sound technologically raw as well.
It is a combination that really works for me, but i know that
some listeners will find this EP too harsh. It is not easy listening
folks, so keep that in mind. However, if you are into punk at
all then this is an essential statement from some masters of