Metawyrd Archives: Wirewatch – July 2012

First of all, beg pardon for the lack of activity on metawyrd. The world intervened and it took a while to get back in the game!

In this post, I highlight a few articles of interest in Wire magazine, a UK avant-music magazine that is one of my favorite periodicals. (By the way, Wire was founded in 1982 to cover avant-jazz and it has nothing to do with the TV series.)

Some music lovers claim that the Wire is too academic, too pretentious, too insular, and just too too. Yes, that can be true, but no other magazine views all genres from an avant-weird fan’s POV. And even when they go leftist academic analytical on your ass, you always end up learning something new as a result. Finally, these folks have heart and when I read the Wire, the love of music is almost palpable. That’s what I want from a music magazine.

How low can you go (July 2012 issue) – This special section devoted to bass (Low End Theories) is simply superb. The capsule reviews of classic live and recorded bass moments by Wire contributors are insightful and incisive, while almost all of the other articles are top-notch–the only disappointment being Dave Tompkins’ lackluster article on Miami Bass. By the by, Ornette Coleman’s “Science Fiction” LP gets a mention.

Dylan Carlson meets Mr. Strange (March 2012 issue) In the lead article on metaldrone-turned-folkdrone act Earth, bandleader Dylan Carlson discussed his recent interest in magick, British folklore and the supernatural. Suzanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” reawakened his teenage interest in mythology and fantasy, which in turn inspired him to start actively exploring the occult in literature, history, and in real life.

James Blackshaw meets Alice Bradley Sheldon (July 2012 issue) – In The Columns section, Joseph Stannard reviews top-notch British fingerstyle guitarist James Blackshaw’s new album “Love Is The Plan, The Plan Is Death” on Important Records. As True Metawyrds might guess, the album contains musical settings based on James Tiptree’s amazing short stories. “Tiptree” was actually a pseudonym of sometime CIA analyst and legendary author Ms. Sheldon, and in the 70s, the science fiction world was shocked to find out that “his” prose was written by a woman. In any case, Stannard says this about the album:

I usually have limited patience for post-Fahey/Basho folk guitar troubadours like Blackshaw, but there’s really not a great deal to dislike here; Blackshaw’s fingerpicking is accomplished and his original creations (these are original songs rather than sketches) involve enough internal variation to elevate them above tedious contemporary acoustic fare.

Some complement, eh?  Since I happen to really like Mr. Bradshaw’s work and also own a copy of this recording, I will be reviewing this album soon.

Oliveros and feminist SF (June 2012 issue) – While reviewing the new 12xCD box set of early recordings by electronic music pioneer and composer Pauline Oliveros, reviewer Nina Power namechecks feminist SF writers Joanna Russ and Marge Piercy. I did not know who Piercy was but it turns out she is an Arthur C. Clarke Award winner (go figure).

Artists on Africa and “science fiction” (July 2012 issue). Thanks to the Low End Theories section (see above), the July issue had me singing in the Tuva style until I read a review of an art installation called “Superpower: Africa in Science Fiction,” which is located at Arnolfini in Bristol, UK. It is hard to judge an installation from a third-hand perspective but reviewer Basia Lewandowski Cummings seems to relate a usual sort of mixed-up hash of murky “futuristic” nonsense that the Art World generates when Our Beloved Genre comes up.

A common fallacy held by artists outside of the genre is that if something is “sci-fi,” it does not have to be realistic or consistent. If visual and performance artists want to associate their works with the phrase “science fiction”, they should develop a passing familiarity with the genre as well as the esoteric arts of worldbuilding and extrapolation or else they are just making shit up. And that is never true science fiction, not by a long shot.

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