Putting out feelers: Chris Watson
I’ve yet to read a word of your August issue, but I feel compelled to write. The Chris Watson cover (The Wire 319) is quite possibly the best, both conceptually and aesthetically, The Wire has EVER displayed. As a visual artist and musician with a long-time interest in entomology, the almost ‘Lynchian’ beauty of both Jake Walters’s cover and the shots that populate Ken Hollings’s article are indeed breathtaking and uncanny. The hissing cockroaches on Mr Watson’s face may serve as an analogue for the magnificient dystopian noise he produced with Cabaret Voltaire... no “Photophobia” here. Great work! John J Potter via email
Another issue and yet another episode of Jon Anderson-bashing. Peter Shapiro’s otherwise excellent article on cosmic disco (The Wire 318) was tainted by the snipey Anderson drubbings that are regularly popping up in articles and reviews. Stephen Thrower’s Epiphany on Yes a few months ago (The Wire 310) did go some way to balancing out the negative vibes. But seriously, lighten up on the guy for goodness’s sake! Or is he just too much of an easy target? Owner Of A Lonely Heart via email
Something sends me to sleep
S Robin’s letter (“Keeping The Faith”, The Wire 318) prompted me to refer back to David Keenan’s long-winded treatise on Hypnagogic pop (The Wire 306). It’s good to know that I wasn’t the only reader offended by that ridiculous appraisal of ‘Hypnagogic’ musicians who seemingly tap into a muddy stream of 1980s mediocrity (Ghostbusters, no less!) and mono-culture for their inspiration. Indeed, ideas such as ambiguity, the ineffable and half-remembered experiences do shape and transform an artist on both conscious and unconscious levels, but why limit Keenan’s term only to musicians/artists supposedly affected by 80s cultural detritus? Who said that “to name something is to destroy”? Well, certainly not David Keenan, as he’s been rather busy creating silly catchphrases that add little or nothing to our understanding of what may be music of substantial value. And did I see a Proto-Hypnagogic playlist (Charts, issue 318)? What a mess! I certainly hope I was dreaming. Arthur Potter New York, USA
Hitting the North
Whether or not it is a sign of a continuing, and worsening, recession or a direct result of funding cuts for art in the North, one thing is certain and that is the lack of high profile events outside of the M25. Looking through Out There in The Wire 317 I was struck by how little was advertised for anywhere outside London, and also the brevity of the tours that did make it North; one or two major cities besides the capital. There was a time where organisations like CMN used to haul some larger events around the country but I never hear anything of them any more. I was on their mailing list, but all of the adverts seemed to have halted now.
For 18 months I was the sole employee of an arts organisation here in Leeds that sought to use its space for the promotion of visual art, music, performance art, film and anything else that we thought fitted our remit. The site itself was not built for the purpose of displaying art, or even amplified performance, and was subject to English Heritage’s listed building rules. Therefore anything that happened was necessarily site-specific; for which also read costly! Gradually, over time, funding became harder to get and the organisation became reliant on trying to make its money from the exhibitors and performers, which is the opposite of what should be happening. After all, artists need money to live too. Eventually the cost of the space became too prohibitive and now there are no more performances, screenings or exhibitions, and no employees. Having lived in Leeds for nearly a decade, it seems like options are closing rather than opening up, what with organisations like The Termite Club disappearing and Sound And Music and CMN never bringing stuff here anymore. The scene, such as it was, has become fractured.
It feels increasingly like staring into the void when considering Art both musical and visual in Leeds. Nothing survives in a vacuum, and it feels like the creative life is being sucked out of the North. A large number of the people that I have worked with in the last ten years have now gone, lost to London with the view that the North has nothing to offer anymore. Leeds has long had a grassroots experimental scene where both music and art are concerned, but these are under threat from an increasingly disaffected and apathetic public.
I do think that part of this problem stems from a lack of context. London is able to have numerous nights dedicated to various strands of experimental music because of the historical context. This is created by the high profile events concerning already established figures. It is too much to throw something completely new at people who may not understand it and expect them to swallow it without question. I do notice that a lot of the London events find their money from other sources such as Arts Council, Gulbenkian Foundation, Goethe Institute and Henry Moore Foundation, among others too numerous to mention; the understanding being, presumably, that you cannot rely on the revenue generated by the ticket buying public if you want to do anything on a large scale – just like in the North. Bruce Davies via email
Rallizes down the road
To Keith Moliné, who agonises about Les Rallizes Dénudés, “Are they actually any good? I don’t know. I just don’t know”(Boomerang, The Wire 318), I say: get aboard a half-decent (better than a decent) sound system with four or five hours of Rallizes and head for the M6. Start off on the Birmingham bypass toll road section with “Enter The Mirror”. This will serenade you gently past Norton Canes service station onto the maelstrom of the real motorway. After a few hours going north with Rallizes, take a break on a moor and muse about which limb or organ you’re going to sell to buy the complete Univive label Rallizes box sets. £3000 or so should cover it.
Are they any good? Who cares? Dai Lewis via email
We want Mick
I fully agree with Gavin Catlin (Letters, The Wire 318). Mick Harris has been a guiding light in my musical life since my teenage years... Leading me from grind/Death Metal to Ambient; from there to John Zorn to dub, etc. The only reason I can come up with as to why he hasn’t had a major feature in your magazine would be that he’s been keeping it off himself. Respect where respect is due. His new Scorn album is amazing. For the rest: keep up the amazing work. Ernst van der Loo The Netherlands
Corrections Issue 318 In the Chicks On Speed piece, the curator of their Don’t Art, Fashion, Music exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts is Judith Winter, not Judith Knight as stated. The limited edition T-shirt was designed by Lavinia Blackwall: apologies for spelling her name wrong.
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 lters
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6 | The Wire | Letters