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Special vinyl set collecting the first two incredible solo albums from Bruce Gilbert - not to be missed* 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. Originally released on Mute in 1984, 'This Way' was Gilbert's first solo album and was primarily made up of work commissioned by choreographer Michael Clark. The introductory ten minutes takes a floating choral sound, modulated alongside panning noise signals, moving in lapping wave formations until the tone darkens with what sounds like treated recordings of crying babies and howling electronic winds, leading us into the pulsating ambience and reverb splashes of the second part. For the third part, Gilbert morphs and phases a muffled breakbeat, over the course of a further ten minutes or so, working with rhythmic tape loop figures, strobing organ stings and phantom background wailings. The remaining two pieces are considerably shorter, and both deal with rapid, percussive takes on electronic sound manipulation. There's a dramatic industrial feel to 'Here Visit' - and 'U, Mu, U' is no less confrontational, pummeling the listener with locomotive noise signals. Twenty-five years on they retain so much of their power largely because of their single-mindedness and creative belligerence. The 1986 follow-up, 'The Shivering Man', has now been remastered by Russell Haswell and is just 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. Just so good. (Boomkat)
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