January 25th, 2012 1:00am
Run Ahead And Blindly Shoot
The original studio recording of “Clay” from last year’s Red Barked Tree was fine, but a bit pinched and stiff, with production that seemed a bit dated – too late 90s, maybe? I can’t exactly place it, but it’s the sound of bad computers. This live recording from the band’s Black Session LP is drastically superior. The tone of the song is just the same, but the performance benefits from a slightly more slack physicality. One could never describe Wire as a loose band, but unlike the studio recording, all the parts in this version sound like they come from the movements of human arms and legs. And yes, pretty much all music is the result of the human body in motion, but the best of it in some way communicates that to the listener. The attack of a chord, the hit of a drum, the seconds it takes to move from one chord to another. We’re listening to that abstraction of physicality to rhythm and melody; it’s part of how we connect to it. We’re always trying to find people on the other end of songs.
Not all of the live versions on Black Sessions are improvements upon the originals – Colin Newman has some trouble hitting his notes in the classic “Map Ref. 41ºN 93ºW,” and generally sounds less engaged when singing the older numbers – but it’s still an impressive document of a remarkably consistent band that has long since settled into a clearly defined aesthetic.
Buy it from Wire.