Rating: 8.75 out of 10
Between Wire’s Object 47 and Bauhaus’ Go Away White, this year has seen some solid releases from the post-punk elite, standouts among imitators and validation among skeptics. As far as shaping the modern music soundscape, Wire is one of the most important bands of the present-day and probably the most thoroughly picked for ripe inspiration. With the seminally charged Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154, all of which were released within the first three years of the band’s existence, Wire seems almost as ingrained into the current musical construct as The Beatles, though they get maybe a quarter of the recognition.
Object 47 is the 47th piece of recorded output they’ve released over their thirty-one years since 1977’s Pink Flag and it exhibits a band still fully capable of bold minimalism. Now a trio, guitarist Bruce Gilbert sitting this one out, singer/guitarist Colin Newman, bassist Graham Lewis and drummer Robert Grey, continue their seemingly simplistic, though gorgeously textured, jaunts into synthesized abstraction and dance beat artistry.
The largest element throughout Object 47 is Graham Lewis’ bass, shooting for Jah Wobble prominence with deep lines that are drown worthy. You don’t realize exactly how thick Lewis carries his tone until the mesmerizing “Circumspect,” which doesn’t quite swallow Newman’s fuzztone or Grey’s clean drum sound, but comes real close. Otherwise, as with “One Of Us” or “Mekon Headman,” the bass line moves with a chunky and steadfast pulse, thickening the mix.
The quantified “thud” of the first three tracks is lightened by the wispy synthesized whine of “Perspex Icon” and the dark noir of “Four Long Years,” leading into industrial territory with “Hard Currency.” Listening to its factory-like churn, Robert Grey works with a robotic timing as reliable as any drum-machine and as cold as any Kraftwerk-calculable circuit. The percussion for “Hard Currency” could easily have been programmed, but I’m pretty sure that human hands are making that happen.
“Patient Flees,” the most experimental track on the album, ridiculously winds its fat rhythm around highly pronounced surf guitar notes and bell cymbal. Low tempo, a one-note guitar solo enters at the second verse, layered over violently choked strings. Too involved for any trio to pull off live, “Patient Flees” winds up a heavily collaged mass of intermingling guitar solos and haphazard texture. Good pick for headphones.
The album’s only real misstep is the 80s retro of “Are You Ready?,” a severely misplaced testament to plasticity and over-reliance on cold technology. Even the guitar solos sound primed for early-80s MTV cheese.
Closing track, “All Fours,” its fuzz-laden backdrop powering its high level rock energy, provides the album an excitable climax.
The band really continues to show ‘em how it’s done. Granted their seminal impact easily overshadows everything they’ve recorded since they first called it quits in 1980, but Wire was born under some inconceivably attained notion of how music shifts and how to keep up. Object 47 proves that they’re still a creative force, still wire(d) into the grid and still responsible for just about everything you’re listening to. If you have taste, that is.
Letters From A Tapehead