Wire ‘Exploded Views’ Italian Book / ‘Live – May 1990’ CD (Stampa Alternativa, SCONC.25, 1994)

Never been entirely sure where this fits into the grand Wire scheme of things, whether it is official, semi-official, unofficial – does it count as one of those ‘objects’ that numbered up to 47 at one point? I’m unsure, since it clearly has input from the band somehow or other, whether that be via the separate interviews or the exclusive live recordings – this is no mere cut and paste history in cuttings type affair. But neither is it an ‘Everybody Loves a History’ nor a ‘Read and Burn’. It shares a series with similar tomes on many other alternative favourites, more likely appearing due to quirks in Italian copyright law than official sanction, I’d wager.

Wire - 'Exploded Views' book, front cover

^ Wire – ‘Exploded Views’ book, front cover

What is is though is half Italian and half English, combining a selection of standard fare for such tomes in the shape of reprinted Wire lyrics, a chronology, a discography, along with four separate, typically self-lacerating interviews with each of the band. Visuals are minimal and of little more than angular sketches or xerox standard for the most part. The interviews are well worth a read, with a particular downer on the ‘Manscape’ era from Colin in particular – making it all the more odd then that the accompanying live cuts hail from that tour. But let’s not be too critical here – this book I’m sure was someone’s labour of love and saw the light of day in its own way to bring some unique Wire texts and recordings to us all. So, praise be, there can never be too much Wire, even of dubious official provenance.

Wire - 'Exploded Views' book, back cover

^ Wire – ‘Exploded Views’ book, back cover

So much for the book then. The accompanying CD is a live recording excerpt with excellent quality sound – its a shame that there isn’t more from this source that has surfaced as a document of the live instance of Wire’s ‘Manscape’ era. The tracks as listed on the CD are;

  1. Sixth (aka ‘Sixth Sense’)
  2. What (aka ‘What Do You See?’)
  3. 1 2 Drill U
  4. Underwater (aka ‘Underwater Experiences’)
Wire - 'Exploded Views' live CD

^ Wire – ‘Exploded Views’ live CD

Despite the good audio quality, it’s a demanding listening experience. This is easily one of Wire’s more challenging eras. The ‘Manscape’ album, even in its studio form, skids off onto all kinds of icy terrains with its discordant guitar-synth MIDI and machine-milled rhythms and in a live setting its even more free-form and volatile concoction, going off in all directions. ‘Sixth Sense’ and ‘What Do You See?’ are originally from ‘Manscape’. ‘Sixth Sense’ has a fairly creepy feel to it at the best of times, this live version uncoils the track out to the eight minute mark, near doubling the length of the original studio take and laying on the ominous atmospherics. One of my favourite Wire ‘texts’ (Wirespeak for lyrics) – “eternal youth seeks fatal bloom” indeed. This is a great version in its own way.

Wire - 'Exploded Views' book - index page

^ Wire – ‘Exploded Views’ book – index page

The live take of ‘What Do You See?’ doesn’t carry the same strength for me somehow though, the dynamics of the studio version are absent. ‘1 2 Drill U’ here in rough and ready prototype would later morph into becoming ‘In Every City’ from the subsequent ‘Drill’ album, cross-referencing some vague trace of 12XU’s text into the kind of relentless machine-beat electronic juggernaut much of their 1990/91/92 work became, for better or worse.

Wire - 'Exploded Views' book - interviews title page

^ Wire – ‘Exploded Views’ book – interviews title page

Finally, ‘Underwater Experiences’ is a track that Wire have revisited and reshaped on many an occasion since the late ’70s through to 2013 – its most well know outings were originally in frantic form on both discs from 1981’s ‘Document and Eyewitness’ live recordings, though an earlier recorded instance surfaced some years after the fact on the ‘Behind The Curtain’ CD of hitherto unreleased demo recordings in the mid ’90s. Its most recent reshaping came on 2013’s ‘Change Becomes Us’ and it’s melting pot of the ‘Document and Eyewitness’ era material, becoming that album’s ‘Attractive Space’ – harking back to the original demo form most of all, though only in the most passing of similarities.

One Response to “Wire ‘Exploded Views’ Italian Book / ‘Live – May 1990’ CD (Stampa Alternativa, SCONC.25, 1994)”

  1. Alessandra Libutti says:

    Although this post is quite old, I may be able to clear some of the doubts about “Wire: Exploded Views”.
    I wrote it with Wire backing between ’93 and ’94. Even if not officially, the band had already disbanded, or at least those were the feelings of each one of its members, especially Colin Newman. There is a “dead end” feel that permeates the interviews; it’s always in the air, a lack of direction and purpose that sought the Mute era to an end.
    The only two members living in London at the time were Colin and Bruce. I met both on several occasions and got on fairly well with Colin, however since Bruce was the one with the strongest views about the book he was put in charge of the liaisons. Unfortunately, he was not interested in the content itself (intended as the logic sequencing of memories and considerations). He wanted (in his own words) to make an “object” of it; he aimed for something where the content would emerge through the form, and Wire would be represented through cryptic dissonances.
    Stampa Alternativa’s Sconcerto books were very popular in Italy at the time and sold fairly well in the UK too mainly because of their original bilingual format and unreleased CD tracks, so although there was a certain degree of flexibility from their part and mine, a cryptic text hidden behind graphic “ventures” was out of question, it simply clashed with the format.
    It was a difficult book to make. Its nature and outcome was strongly affected by Wire different personalities, views and frictions. I guess, in that respect, it fulfilled the purpose of representing each individual and offer an insight onto how those differences had resulted in a strongly creative ensemble. The book was a photograph of Wire at that point of their career. It was good and unique. Wire however did not feel that way, so I guess that, unless they changed their mind over the years, it was not one of the 41.

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