Stephen O’Malley

... and a WIRE neghead

Posted: Jun 8, 2009

from WIRE June 2009 letters page

Sunn don’t shine

As a reader of your magazine for many years now, I always appreciated you featuring new avant garde and experimental music as well as your ability to introduce the historic avant garde to new generations. But with much disappointment I have noticed that recently this ability has faded away more and more. For example I refer to your heavy focus on Doom, Black and new ‘avant’ Metal, and your grim attempt to make this genre appear as a new form of experimental music (I admit I was truly annihilated when I saw the idiot posers known as Sunn O))) on your cover). Thankfully, as a 57 year old music lover, I know exactly what this is all about – it is no more than a mere commercial trend.

But what finally pushed me to write this letter is the review that Rob Young wrote about My Cat Is An Alien & Enore Zaffiri’s Through The Magnifying Glass Of Tomorrow CD/DVD on Atavistic (The Wire 303). This is a work that should be considered a milestone of the last decade. I know Enore Zaffiri’s craft and recordings very well. As Brian Morton concluded in issue 270: “No one with an interest in recent syntheses of voice and electronic music can afford to miss them.” It is not surprising he is involved with My Cat Is An Alien, who I consider one of the most original new music entities. Their collaborative CD is the perfect union of two generations – an actual bridge between historic and new avant garde. I saw the trio performing last November, and it is indeed the subtlety that disappointed Young which is the real strong point of their musical encounter. The same subtlety makes works like Musica Per Un Anno and Progetto Q81 timeless masterpieces, and in this record it’s even more enhanced by My Cat Is An Alien’s unmistakable musical lyricism.

Last but not least, I must comment on Young’s mistaken description of the DVD contents – the “video paintings” which he credits to both Roberto Opalio and Enore Zaffiri are in fact how Zaffiri defines his

video art, as in the DVD titles. This has nothing to do with the film by Roberto Opalio entitled Light_Earth_Blue_Silver featured in the set, and which Young does not mention. This is a true oversight, since some years ago I attended the screening of this film at the Sage in Gateshead. I can affirm that I have rarely seen such amazing work even by the most highly praised film makers.

Undeniably the DVD represents a key document, featuring for the first time ever two important chapters in the video art experience of both artists. This is the kind of work a magazine like The Wire should believe in.

—Nuno Fernandes via email