T B E
" T I R E v A D V E N T U R E S I N M O D E R N M U S I C
Issue 163 September 1997 52 50 $5 50 ISSN 0952-0686 (USPS 006231)
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ack in the office then, after five weeks of paternity leave, a period during which my interest in the diabolical manoeuvrings at the wild fringes of contemporary music slumped to an all time low. While i t should come as no surprise that the rigours of the first weeks of fatherhood and the desire to keep pace with the stuff that forcefeeds this magazine's inexorable monthly march into the wide blue yonder are mutually exclusive occupations, there did occur a harmonic convergence of sorts betwixt the needs and demands of my brand new days-old daughter and one particular corner of the familial CD collection.
Now don't fret, I'm not about to metamorphoseinto a born-again baby-bore, and fill this column each month with dewy-eyed blow-by-blow accounts of Ruby's rapid, wonder-inducing progressfrom a very vocal item at the sharp end of the food chain to something approximating the status of a responsive human being -but indulge mejust this once, this has got relevance (as the Americans might say).
So anyway, there I was, playingthe part of the caringsharing father, determined to do my bit, pouring through a mini-library of baby literature,trying to get to grips with current medical thinking as regards little Johnny's feed patterns, sleep patterns, desired stool consistency (oh yes), trapped wind, weight gain, hair loss, my head spinning from what appeared to be contradictoryadvice coming in fast from all sides (babyrearing, you soon realise, is not an exact science,just like music criticism, in fact: contributors to this month's Letters page please note).Then I came across a report of research into the calming effects of high-volume white noise on your screaming new-born. At last, I thought, here was some infant wisdom I could get to. White noise in this context was defined as the sound of washing machines, hoovers, blenders and other humble domestic appliances going about their methodical business. Somewhat impractical,the new parent might think, having to run the warm-wash cycle on the Zanussi at three in the morning in order to lull Junior back into the arms of Morpheus. I, on the other hand, felt perfectly placed to act on this particular piece of scientific endeavour. After all, I might be a l~ttlehazy on the exact words to "Baa Baa Black Sheep", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and other infant-soothing nursery rhymes of my own childhood (although in light of this month's Current 93 story, I now know that I should have consulted David Tibet in order to cure this strangely troubling instance of memory loss), but my CD towers positively hum with music which attempts to replicate the sound of a Robochef whirring its way through the heart of an innocent artichoke.
So there Iwas again, as the small hours approached, newly armed with all the equipment necessary to enable Ruby to go softly through that dark night: disposable nappies, industrial strength nappy sacks, cotton wool balls, nappy cream, dummy, change mat, fluffy toy, and, waiting silently in the CD tray, a copy of Skull Drones 97 by Bile Puke Anal Grinder.
Unfortunately, I neglectedto account for the additional stress levels that can be piled on top of the already soulwrenching screams of a two-day old baby by music constructed exclusively from the amplified sound of a blunt chalnsaw dismembering the contact-miked carcass of a freeze-dried Yak Turn it off, turn it off, came the cry from the bedroom,as Ruby howled in my arms and The Puke (as they are known to hardcore aficionados) launched into their singular version of that classic monochord electro-noisework, "48 Hour Blood Beach Trepanning Party". Momentarilycrestfallen, but still determined to test out the white-noise-as-aural-pacifier theory, I search the CD racks for a less coruscating example of the art of Minimalist composition, select the recent issue of a 1968 live performance of Terry Riley's m y NogoodAnd 7hePhantom BandAll Night Flight, whack the volume into the red, and hey presto, it does the tr~ck!Terry's saxophonespins hypnotic arabesques through the Time Lag Accumulator and Ruby d r i i from a state verging on utter hysteria into a place of almost hypernaturalcalm.
A few days later, still smug in the knowledge that my daughter's taste in music is already on a par with that of an advanced Wire reader, I take a phone call from an in-law undertakingbaby-sitting duties for the afternoon. How is she, I ask. Fine, now that she's stopped crying. She's been crying? How did you stop her? I put some music on. I feel the muscles in my stomach knottrng as I ask, slowly, What music? John Denver, comes back the satisfied reply.. .
This issue we say 'Don't be a stranger' to Vanessa Smith, who is vacating the magazine's advertisingdesk after two year's dedicated service. In her place, we welcome Anne Hilde Neset, straight outta the colds of Norway into the honest seat in the office. TONY HERRINGTON
lte vlewr expterredm Ihc lMr anmxe M the rspecaw cmlbuw~3rd are ~ I I Y wedbvmem%meaartdtl k b m - r n r - l n y l a ~ ~ ~ * r d n m a m n r c ~ h e r e r d ~ 6 m d ~ ~ p l ~ a b , ~ CenVlbumrr U n a W l v d r W w P D n d any Itern6 M d d e n and weman it
The October 97 issue of The Wire Revealing the parts other music magazinesfail to reach
On sale Tuesday 30 September
4 The Wire
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