24 January 2020 (released)
24 January 2020
‘Post-punk’ as a concept, notion, as a site of potentiality for progressive thrust has been through numerous (re)iterations since its emergence in the late 1970s (c.f. the New Wave of New Wave in the 90s and the glut of jerky indie-pop from the early 00s). Arguably it has ceased to contain any residual meaning, where/when any socio-conceptual/contextual traces of what ‘made’ it ‘post-punk’ in the first place long since erased.
Wire embodied the negotiation from punk’s call to destruction through DIY practices: their still pioneering 1977 – 1979 triptych ‘Pink Flag’, ‘Chairs Missing’ and ‘154’ seamlessly soundtracking post-punk’s re/deconstructive aesthetic and artfully articulating a realigning of time and space and assessing the individual’s place and role within it.
Therefore the searing question is ‘How do these post-punk progenitors, renowned for stripping down recorded music’s components and then repurposing any known meaning into new forms and experimental constructs exist in such a void?’
The short answer is on ‘Mind Hive’: three years on from last album ‘Silver Lead’ the members have been anything but inactive, Colin Newman has deployed his production/guitar work on Minimal Compact’s superlative LP ‘Creation is Perfect’ and Graham Lewis and Matthew Simms’s activated their side-project Fitting - both from last year. The affects/effects seep deep here.
Still wilfully lyrically obtuse, abstruse and oblique, their seeming non-sense makes total sense within the context of consumption, a coalition of coded chattering and Newman’s staccato syntax stated rather than sung.
Opener ‘Be like them’ fuses Wire’s passed and prescient, its sound a future-echo as it lyrics - (re)discovered from 1977 - are (re)set to a thundering jangular noise symptomatic of the group and their template.
‘Cactussed’ and ‘Off the beach’ show(case) the group’s pop-orientated particulars: The former is a distant cousin, splice removed from 1989’s ‘Eardrum Buzz’, the latter is an alliterative and philosophical poser whose upbeating tempo belies a melancholic mantra.
Despite punk’s alleged antipathy towards prog(ressive) rock (arguably overstated at the time), Wire have always displayed delicate tendencies at playing with the tenets of elaboration and the propensity to stretch sound. The haunting ‘Shadows’ and the grinding 'Hung' evidence these ‘traces’.
Subverting the usual term ‘hive mind’ Wire suggest the modern human ways of 'being' remain a complex compartmentalisation of choice, catastrophe and (cyber)space.