“Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises/Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.” Caliban’s beguiling speech in The Tempest tells a lie, of course. When Earth’s Dylan Carlson, who graces this month’s cover, strolled along the Thames shoreline at low tide with a tape recorder, he captured an eerie melody floating in the sweet air. The sound, delightful or not, made its way onto his solo release for The Tapeworm cassette label, Edward Kelley’s Blues, along with words translated into the angelic language of Enochian, invented by the 16th century alchemist John Dee and his colleague, the self-declared spirit medium Edward Kelley.
Until I read Joseph Stannard’s interview with Carlson and his group, I had Earth down as being steeped in American culture. Their particular kind of Metal (if you can call it that) emitted a Cormac McCarthy-like bleakness soaked with Grateful Dead riffage and tectonic-paced Country blues. Or perhaps Carlson’s striking American serial-killer look (a compliment: it is a striking image) had made me filing Earth carelessly under American Gothic. But talking to Joseph, Carlson opens up about his Scottish origins, and his fascination with the ‘fair folk’ music of the British isles, taking in Iain Sinclair, Peter Ackroyd, John Renbourn and Pentangle along the way. He even reveals his own experiences of uncanny encounters, incuding one near Waterloo Station. For someone who has to elbow their way through Waterloo’s commuter hordes on a daily basis, it was astonishing to discover the place had any wyrd dimensions.
Memory ghosts, rather than the spiritual wraiths of Earth’s unearthly encounters, lie at the heart of the output of this month’s Invisible Jukeboxees. The Ghost Box label’s Jim Jupp and Julian House issue their own music and that of a small roster of likeminded individuals on brightly coloured records which mutate British music and TV from the 1950s to the late 70s – Library Music, BBC Radiophonic
Workshop sounds, Public Information Films and educational records, all of them from a bygone, paternalistic and more politically benign era. Jupp describes the label as existing in an interzone between pop culture and the occult (screen ghosts, perhaps, rather than haunted railway stations), and exemplifies a Britain still fascinated by its pagan past (so memorably portrayed in The Wicker Man, whose long delayed sequel The Wicker Tree is due soon) and its eccentric folk traditions, still nostalgic for the innocence of its 1960s TV landscapes.
I have had my own memory ghosts to contend with this week while clearing my desk at The Wire’s East London office – after 15 years on the team, this issue will be my last as a member of the magazine’s staff. Soon I’ll be moving to Oslo, where I’ll be continuing the mission in another guise, as artistic director of a contemporary music organisation.
So I have been going through filing cabinets and box files that are full of items that already feel like relics: period flyers for Wire events, and faxes from all corners of the globe (before the advent of email, the office fax machine used to whirr all day long – our main link to a world of new music).
I joined the magazine’s staff back with the August 1997 issue (starring a stoic Robert Wyatt on the cover) and my time here comes to an end with Earth (the Ends of the Earth?). In that time The Wire has been an incredible place to work. I’ve been confronted with the most astonishing manifestations of sonic imaginations in overdrive on a daily basis; I’ve travelled to events globally in search of groundbreaking new music; and I’ve been lucky to work with the most dedicated, learned and passionate of colleagues, all of whom I will sorely miss. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the magazine grow, both in size and across different platforms: online, on radio, at festivals and live events. Long may this title continue to thrive and survive and change lives. Anne Hilde Neset
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Issue 337 March 2012 £4 ISSN 0952-0680
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Words Steve Barker, Mike Barnes, Dan Barrow, Clive Bell, Marcus Boon, Michael Bracewell, Britt Brown, Nick Cain, Philip Clark, Byron Coley, Julian Cowley, Alan Cummings, Sam Davies, Brian Dillon, Phil England, Kodwo Eshun, Mark Fisher, Phil Freeman, Louise Gray, Andy Hamilton, Adam Harper, Jim Haynes, Richard Henderson, Ken Hollings, Robin Howells, Hua Hsu, William Hutson, David Keenan, Rahma Khazam, Biba Kopf, Tim Lawrence, Alan Licht, Dave Mandl, Marc Masters, Bill Meyer, Keith Moliné, Will Montgomery, Brian Morton, Joe Muggs, Alex Neilson, Andrew Nosnitsky, Ian Penman, Richard Pinnell, Edwin Pouncey, Nina Power, Simon Reynolds, Nick Richardson, Bruce Russell, Peter Shapiro, Chris Sharp, Philip Sherburne, Nick Southgate, Daniel Spicer, Joseph Stannard, David Stubbs, Dave Tompkins, David Toop, Dan Warburton, Val Wilmer, Barry Witherden, Matthew Wuethrich
Images Thomas Adank, Jon Baker, Dusdin Condren, Mauro D’Agati, Tara Darby, Jonathan de Villiers, Glen Erler, Jason Evans, Jason Fulford, Luke Gilford, Leonie Hampton, Jamie Hawkesworth, Pieter Hugo, Jak Kilby, Heinz Peter Knes, Benjamin McMahon, Tom Medwell, Jason Nocito, Niall O’Brien, Shawn Records, Beth Rooney, Savage Pencil, Jaap Scheeren, Michael Schmelling, Bryan Sheﬃeld, Ben Stockley, Eva Vermandel, Kai von Rabenau, Jake Walters, Jeremy & Claire Weiss, Val Wilmer