Sins of the father
Re: Global Ear, The Wire 338. I was amused to see Sandro Mussida quoted in an article on the state of the experimental music scene in Milan after the artistic vacuum left by the Berlusconi era. What Mussida forgets to mention is that he’s the son of guitarist Franco Mussida, of Italian Prog rock group PFM. Franco and his PFM bandmates Lucio Fabbri, Franz Di Cioccio and Patrick Djivas have been constant contributors to Berlusconi’s Mediaset/RAI empire as composers of atrocious jingles, killers of young people’s minds via preregulated talent shows (in turn producing moneyspinning paper starlets), and as suppliers of musicians for the worst kind of television trash (Franco Mussida runs CPM, the most connected music school in Italy, where his son also teaches). Not to mention various male and female offspring of theirs mysteriously becoming famous on those very TV channels. Can we say they are the regime’s avant garde? Massimo Ricci via email
As a resident of Vienna and frequent visitor to the Donaufestival, I’d like to comment on Jennifer Lucy Allan’s piece (Bites, The Wire 338). Jennifer is spot on regarding the various “madcap art projects” in which the festival specialises, but sadly its music programming has become increasingly uninspired in recent years. Since the high water mark of 2007, which saw an unparalleled gathering of key figures from the Industrial underground (Current 93, Nurse With Wound, Throbbing Gristle and many more), each subsequent year’s line-up has led to feelings of bafflement and even stronger ones of déjà vu. Fans of CocoRosie, Antony, Laurie Anderson and Rhys Chatham will no doubt enjoy this year’s performances by those artists just as much as they did when the same people appeared two or three years ago, while fans of Ben Frost will be wondering why he is absent in 2012 having appeared both last year and the year before. I wouldn’t dispute the Donaufestival’s status as a prime showcase for oddball performance art, but when this year’s headlining acts include names like Hercules & Love Affair and Pantha Du Prince, it’s clear that director Tomas Zierhofer-Kin’s address book is looking rather thin. Richard Rees Jones Vienna, Austria
À la Mode
“Late-era Depeche Mode records offer a stale listening experience,” writes Britt Brown in his review of VCMG’s Ssss (Soundcheck, The Wire 338). Oh contraire! Of late, Depeche Mode has entered a purple patch of creativity. Produced by the redoubtable Ben Hillier, their last two records, Playing The Angel in 2005 and Sounds Of The Universe (which begins with a one-minute slab of musique concrète) in 2009, have been some of the strongest of their career: excellent songs; Bob Dylan-style ranting on “Wrong”; the four-on-the-floor dub of “A Pain That I’m Used To”; and the 21st century squelching Eraserhead electronica of “Sinner In Me” and “Fragile Tension”; not to mention “In Sympathy”‚ which is easily the equal of “Enjoy The Silence”. Martin Gore is writing some of the best songs of his career and Dave Gahan’s voice has never been better. Give them another spin, Britt, you won’t regret it.
Now, when you say “stadium-sized productions and tired verse-chorus architectures”, are you sure you’re not referring to U2, whom Depeche left for dead years ago? Ziad Haidar Sydney, Australia
A historical footnote to “We Are All David Toop Now” (The Wire 338). Musics magazine came about as the result of a phone conversation between Evan Parker, Madelaine Davidson and myself. We invited
Beresford, Burwell, Toop and others to contribute, as well as doing so ourselves. Martin Davidson (Emanem and psi) London, UK
So Angel Sánchez Borges’s advice to Los Llamarada is to start singing about peace and love (Letters, The Wire 337)? He must not be living in the same city. Maybe he is heading to a beautiful and peaceful beach near the Caribbean, rather than living in one of the most dangerous cities in the country. Aesthetics? The environment dictates strongly your aesthetic. Remember Detroit? A city hit by violence and crime? Remember The Stooges, The MC5, Death, Alice Cooper and Grand Funk? Some of the most abrasive proto-punk and hard rock acts emerged from that city. Wonder why? Because of the environment. Yeah, Motown was great, life affirming, but it didn’t change the city’s fortune; even Marvin Gaye’s wonderful What’s Going On was questioned by Motown because it reflected reality. Imagine if Marvin listened to that wrong advice – one of the most wonderful records of all time may have never been issued.
Angel Sánchez Borges casts doubt on the punk credentials of Los Llamarada (even though their sound belongs more to the post-punk of The Fall, Joy Division or Wire). Punk was born in the extreme conditions of downtown New York. British punk blossomed under the Thatcher regime. Hardcore is one of the only things we can thank the Reagan administration for. When the American economy got better, we got shit like pop punk. A harsh environment helps abrasive music to develop, and Gone Gone Cold, Los Llamarada’s latest opus, is nurtured by the hostile conditions the city is in – cruel drug wars, executions, corruption, terrorism, extreme poverty, extreme richness, nothing in between. Yes, we want our city back, we want to be safe in the streets again. Some might live in an idyllic world, some others live in a very harsh reality, and everyone reflects their very personal view. Youareaghost via email
Ah, it made me smile – The Howling Hex get a good review (The Columns, Soundcheck, The Wire 336). Keith Moliné’s take on the new album Wilson Semiconductors is brilliant! It’s only the second time I have read glowing words about The Howling Hex, I think. For some perverse reason, all the previous negative reviews have only made me like this band more. Someone finally gets what is going on. I am totally with Keith on this: the thing to get is to stop trying to get it, and the nutty, ramshackle greatness will be revealed. Sarah Haq Melbourne, Australia
Sam Davies rather underplays Jim Jarmusch’s involvement in the “shortlived” Del-Byzanteens (Soundcheck, The Wire 337). In their five or so years together in the early 1980s, they recorded one album, Lies To Live By, and two EPs, Draft Riot and the sublime Girl’s Imagination, with lyrics by Luc Sante, vocals and keyboards by Jarmusch (and, elsewhere, reeds by John Lurie). The title track of that latter EP alone, a delirious mash-up of early B-52s/Can, should earn them/it the status of a not-sominor classic of No Wave. John Gill Skopelos, Greece
Corrections Issue 338 In the Sun Araw feature, the name of the “hedonistic surfer dude” character in Apocalypse Now was Lance Johnson, not Mr Clean, and he was played by Sam Bottoms not Laurence Fishburne (who played Mr Clean). In the Charles Gayle feature, the second and third columns were reversed. In Print Run, the review of How Soon Is Now? was by Owen Hatherley, not Hatley.
Write to: Letters, The Wire, 23 Jack’s Place, 6 Corbet Place, London E1 6NN, UK, fax: +44 (0)20 7422 5011, firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for space or clarity
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