OBJECT OF DISSECTION Wire

Tackling the
surrealism and absurdity of life.

BY A.D. AMOROSI

 

Calling a work of musical art an object may seem somewhat chilled
in nu-pop’s moistened environs. Especially if the work is as harsh, hearty and
deeply melodic as Object 47. But if
it’s Wire we’re discussing and we know them as Britain’s aged-yet-ageless post-everything
ensemble who’ve been an off-and-on unit since punk’s first heyday, “object” is
about right. Because along with creating the blunt snarling Pink Flag and the eerily languid 154, Colin Newman and Graham Lewis have
made recent shard-sharp EPs like Read
& Burn 03
that come across like gut-busting jabs as opposed to Object 47’s swat to the skull.

 

“The tag was of my invention, coined towards the end of the
working process when I was trying to find a shorthand way of describing 47‘s main trust to a friend in an
email,” says Lewis, Wire’s erudite singer/bassist and owner of a six month old
Affen Pinscher named “Iggy Pup” from his family’s home in Uppsala, Sweden.

 

 “It stuck.”

 

As a band that thinks more in calculated arcs than it does
will-nilly spurts, Lewis and Newman discussed the process. “Colin asked me what
kind of a record I wanted to make,” recalls Lewis, “and my answer was one which
was illuminated, expansive, communicative and let in light into the place which
was [2003’s] Send.” There would be
lyrics which posed questions, suggested answers and observed keenly — and described
brutally and minutely — the surrealism and absurdity of life at large. “It’s
always easier to think of, and work within a process, trusting that it will
produce an object which accurately reflects that… in all its failure and
success. The surviving failures one tries to keep to a minimum.”

 

The ambition of projection is what made/makes Object 47 so potent. As expansive as
“Perspex Icon” and as weighty as “Hard Currency” are now (to say nothing of how
cutting and incisive their recent EPS have been), Lewis admits that Wire came
closer to extinction in the preceding four years to 2008 than at any time in its
willful existence. “A brush with mortality is always a wake-up call. So my
interest in this arc of work was to pick the Wire vehicle out of the ditch
where it had been carelessly steered by self serving interests and put it back
on the creative track upon which it belongs.”

 

While you can’t help but wonder if that statement (and
Wire’s snide rant “One of Us”) isn’t being lobbed against recently dismissed
long-time Wire-r Bruce Gilbert, Lewis is nothing if not a gentleman. And a
mystery. “I think its universality is great,” says Lewis. “I hope the song will
serve a function in other people’s mangled relationships.”

 

 

[Photo Credit: Malka Spiegel]

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