Starting a world with art-style, worldly proposition in and of itself, meaning to fit into art without being cliched counter-culture. Wire has been doing it through rock songs for years, ages even. To then create something disparate yet similar to ”bastardizingly” turn or be not turned is the challenge for Colin Newman solo with Malka Spigel on most recordings.
Opening with firstly what really is at the center of Wire, rock music, made through the lens of art, this has of course been said before. However, bearing with that common theme then, Newman’s works gets generally even more experimental in his solo material, and the rhythms or bass lines which hold steady in the more grounded Wire version of art-punk, are a little wilder typically with the Newman/Malka Spigel writing combo.
That said, that can be a curse, but from the start and for the most part it all just clicks here with the wild art-themes, and the rhythm, which means despite the album title, the wilder Bastards (Deluxe Edition), is a release for the working class people. Sparing nothing, Newman elaborates with guitar rhythms on top of the aforementioned techno-technical drums and bass of the first track, “Sticky” and really then in “May”.
Does the release lull occasionally, sure as any would, really, but just not until the fourth song in, and even so, the third “Slowfast (Falling Down The Stairs with a Drumkit)” gets even more technical, it spares nothing to achieve this as the fourth, “Without” emphasizes the guitar technique; the fifth, “g-deep” heads back to the bass depth, and the sixth as we keep rolling in notably voiceless instrumental.
“Spaced In” as well as “Spiked”, the seventh, continues this turning almost dance heavy rhythmic trend. The eight track hits in “The Orange House and The Blue House” and it sounds a bit like Read and Burn or Send by Wire, but would perhaps be best if it was just the bass line, which while granted is familiar to British or alt-rock makes the song better as it grows louder, and becomes the theme it perhaps should have been at the start, this track may even be a Wire re-working in disguise. Finally, “Turn (2024 Remaster Version)” is the single, which finally shows some vocal tremor, and tremor really is the word for this record perhaps as the album, is constant in instrumental motive even here, pounding drums, but trembling vocals. In a rhythmic, peaceful sendoff of the original album, both albums are similar, this is the pop hit, but perhaps the best part of the remastered album is not even this sensibility of Colin Newman finding his technical techno-pop voice, but the extra tracks following.
As they are almost as poppy as “Turn”, while still being super productive in a vibe of their own on each and every extra song. Aside from that the remaster is great, but differs minimally from the original with Newman/Spigel’s remaster contributions being very apparent in the production and aforementioned vibe, but still holding true to the original sounds.
That said, much like Swim Team 2, track earlier collab, the further this release goes, the better. The following four tracks to “Turn” are remastered from an EP, and are trendsetting techno vibes that the original only hopes to achieve. Those being “Automation”, “Faq”, “Voice”, and “Output”. Perhaps most notably from the final numbers is one line in, “The Narrative (feat Coarrado Izzos instrumentations)” the lines poignant however disparate, “The narrative will sometimes fade, making sense is not the point, but being there is worth the price”.Classic Wire lyrics, and yet classically more instrumental still subtly refined for in a good way as the whole remaster seems to be than Wire is, as mentioned largely successfully. “Blank Canvas”, however is slightly less refined, and a variable success of instrumentation. “Time Will Allow” harkens back to that pop-techno-trendsetting vibe Newman is capable of, the drums are really louder than expected here, but it works oddly, because with an understated guitar line, the result it poppier.
“Tsunami” is kind of the same story, but louder, and “Cut The Slack”, is again more akin to the most Wire-y best pop-rock, and Spigel’s instrumentation here, is like her “Antimatter” single or perhaps even earlier, “4D”, “The Fishes and The Shining Sea”, or “See it Sideways”, and of course the “Rosh Bolatta” single. Now these technical influences can be seen in final numbers, “Fond and Bound”, “Unbroken”, and “Flight Mode”, in the instrumental wavy vibes, but these songs really are ballads, and even the vocals while driving and inspired are mostly overdone by the sentimental guitar. Even more so these really are Wire like art-rock as mentioned at the outset with some refinement for the better above Wire even mostly because Spigel and Newman have an art-pop sensibility which is hard to capture in Wires full band setting perhaps. Overall, as mentioned, both when capturing the Wirey rock technical or the Newman’s/Spigel’s/Izzo’s albums’ pop-rock style, it all just works really well for an artsy, Bastard (Remastered 2024) reminder that art is a good thing, cut some slack for Newman, Spigel, Wire, and the general 2024 artworld sound.