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Sunday, September 03, 2006

WIRE Read & Burn 01

pinkflag PF4 (2002)

I remember seeing this on the shelves at Bluetone Records and asking Mike, the owner, about it. I had been a Wire fan throughout high school and university but hadn't heard anything from them in a while. This six-song, seventeen-minute CD was pricey ($27!) but Mike had played it in the store and liked it, and another customer had bought it and assured him that it was worth every penny.

Read & Burn 01 was a massive departure from previous Wire recordings, and the sound of the album was about as "back-to-basics" as you could possibly get. After experimenting with sampling and electronic percussion during the eighties and nineties, the group released The First Letter, an album without their drummer Robert Gotobed, who parted amicably with the band previous to the recording. Gotobed and the rest of the group felt that Wire's sound at the time was evolving into a state where actual drums would be unnecessary (in his honour, the group dropped the letter "e" from their name, calling themselves Wir). Read & Burn, therefore, is like a reunion of sorts, as Gotobed returns to the drum chair with a vengeance, propelling the band's stripped down sound with martial, no-nonsense 4/4 beats.

"In the Art of Stopping", a one-chord fuzztone stomp, kicks off the album and seems to act as a massive throat-clearing with regard to the band's previous sound. There's an immediate sense of freshness and something almost like relief in the way the group bears down on the simple blues riff that propels the track. The other tracks on the album follow this model, making Wire sound like the best aggro-metal band ever, or at least ready to challenge any of the current bands in the genre (who are probably about half their age).

By stripping their sound down to its bare essentials, Wire sounds refreshed and ready to start writing the next chapter in their legacy. (Some tracks also available as part of the full-length album Send.)


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