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  Read & Burn 01  
  Pink Flag  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

It has been 8 months since my conversion, since that glorious night at The Echo where i witnessed the purest punk show i have ever seen. Since then i have listened to much Wire, but i have, in typical PostLibyan procrastinating fashion, not yet reviewed any. Until now.

Read & Burn is ostensibly to be a series of EPs from Wire. They want to capture the immediacy of musical creation, so the songs are written, performed, recorded, read into a digital medium, and then burned to CD. Minimal overdubs or post-production is used. (Which tells me that Wire learned from the mistakes they made with 1990's bloated Manscape. Good for them.) It is a nice idea, and the results, in this case, work for the most part.

Read & Burn 01 is the first recorded testament of Wire Part 3, and it consists of 6 songs. The first song, In The Art of Stopping screams "Wire are back!" from the get go. Grinding guitars and hard monotonous beats fly by loud and fast, with vocalist Colin Newman's voice fractured and distorted. "Trust me," he bellows into the distortion, as the drums thud like some sort of industrial machine, and the guitars are a blaring whirr of sound. This is loud and fast and wonderful.

I Don't Understand sounds like the title of a song that is either angry or sad. Wire, of course, are angry. This is a little poppier than the previous tune, and the drums are slightly funkier, but the guitar is still a fuzzed out mess, and Newman screams the title over and over. I know that emotion -- sometimes things make so little sense that all you can do is repeat that events are incomprehensible. I really like this song.

The third track, Comet, features a great drum rhythm. It's almost funky, and in a way it reminds me of the rhythms used by Midnight Oil on some of their earlier work, like Red Sails in the Sunset. Some sort of primal drumbeat, something that seems primitive and "world music-esque" in a very subtle way. At any rate, this is the first song on the EP where Colin Newman doesn't sound furious. He is actually singing here, and it is good.

The beat gets even funkier on Germ Wise, which is the closest this version of Wire are getting to the dance floor. Otherwise, the general themes of Read & Burn 01 are continued here in the fuzzy guitar and great bass riffing. In this instance Newman is not a dominating force in the song, giving only subtle vocals buried in the mix and a bit of screaming at the end.

1st Fast reminds me of In The Art of Stopping in general structure, although here Newman is singing not screaming. It moves along at the same pace, but is not so angry. It's decent, but i prefer the other.

And finally we have the cryptically titled The Agfers of Kodack. This song sounds foreign to me, and it also sounds intentionally so. The drums are flattened, and Newman is singing as if describing something very far away that i could never understand. The overall feel i get from the song is one of confusion. However, it is an insanely catchy song, and when the backing vocals join in it becomes wonderful. I like this song, a lot.

So there you go. In general Read & Burn 01 is a great work by a talented band. It is very well recorded, and it does sound immediate and alive in a way that a lot of highly produced studio music does not.

However, i must contract this EP with the second of the series. In that comparison, this EP sounds "rawer", more primal. I mean that in a good way of course, since it stems from sheer emotional content, but there is also a slight sense of "getting reacquainted with the technology". Any band that records itself has to have a certain degree of understanding of recording technology, and i am sure that this tech has changed significantly in the 10 years since Wire last recorded. So they are emotionally raw, and they sound technologically raw as well. It is a combination that really works for me, but i know that some listeners will find this EP too harsh. It is not easy listening folks, so keep that in mind. However, if you are into punk at all then this is an essential statement from some masters of the genre.

Related Links:

Wire in concert.
Read & Burn 02.


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