Boomkat Product Review
In 1979, after completing their third and final group masterpiece, 154, Wire dissolved, leaving Bruce Gilbert and fellow traveller Graham Lewis free to explore their interests in minimalist electronics across a series of solo and collaborative projects. Gilbert's first solo LP had plenty to recommend it, but it was when he signed to Mute and unveiled his sophomore '84 effort This Way that the power and acuity of his solo vision was first properly glimpsed. The 1986 follow-up, The Shivering Man, now remastered by Russell Haswell and reissued by Editions Mego to mark its 25th anniversary, is a stone cold classic: a landmark in post-punk electronic music that sounds more relevant today than ever. Full of pulsating, dubwise rhythm and beautifully modulated noise, it benefits from vocal contributions from the angelic Angela Conway (AC Marias), most notably on the proto-techno, minimal wave groover 'Eline Cout II', and from Lewis on the closing 'Epitaph For Henran Brenlar' (which sounds like Raime and Old Apparatus producing Bauhaus, or near enough). The queasy tape loops and gurgling analogue synths of 'Net In The Feather' are poised somewhere between early Cabs and the modern-day murk of Ekoplekz and Mount Vernon Arts Club, and 'Hommage' and 'There Are' take us into gnashing, gnarly industrial territory. What makes this record so beguiling is the way it plays off textural abstraction against more traditional melodies and song structures, how suavely it walks the tightrope between sound art and pop, violence and romance. Mego's reissue represents the first time The Shivering Man has been available on CD in its complete form, and it comes with a bonus Conway video featuring radical dancer Michael Clark and originally broadcast in '87 on Channel 4; vinyl heads can go for the double-LP that bundles it with This Way. Whichever format you go for, make no mistake: this is an ESSENTIAL purchase.