22 June 2009

P'o - Whilst Climbing Thieves Vie For Attention

After three experimental albums as Dome, former Wire members Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis found themselves contemplating the empty space of the Waterloo Gallery. The Gallery had been used for their exhibition with Russell Mills, but now stood vacant and beckoning.

Together with drummer Peter Price, they began to entertain the idea of a band to fill the space, one that might bring together the spoken word and sound collage techniques they had grown increasingly interested in. Among the group of artists with whom they shared this beckoning space was David Tidball, who contributed words and ideas, and Alison Conway, better known as A.C. Marias, joining in on bass, guitar, and additional vocals.

The early rehearsals were promising, and the group began to plan live dates, but these plans were cut short with Tidball's announcement that he was emigrating to South America. Lest the sound be forever lost, they booked time at Blackwing Studios, that favourite haunt of 4AD-types, and set about recording as much of their set as they had worked out, trusting the results to producer Eric Radcliffe. A new dimension was added to the proceedings with the addition of a Fairlight CMI, the first polyphonic synthesizer to employ digital sampling technology to generate musical tones and textures. One could record any audio source, from a radiator hiss to someone moaning ~oh yeah~, and play it back as a melody, or build monstrous chords, layering note on note. Other bands, perhaps most notably those on the ZZT label, would soon employ the Fairlight to humorous effect, using pistol shots as percussion elements, or turning a single voice into a heavenly choir, but it was arguably the P'o consortium that first truly explored its full musical potential, stretching its sampling engine in all manner of unforeseen ways, "knitting with music," as Gilbert called it.

The resulting album, first released on Court Records in 1983, has grown in status over the years, becoming something of a holy grail for many Wire aficionados. Here we present the out of print and now nearly impossible to find cd version, in answer to an earlier request. It includes the full version of "I Will," which had been severely truncated for the vinyl release, plus four alternate mixes.

-- Crash The Driver


P'o - Whilst Climbing Thieves Vie For Attention

01 Time and Time
02 Back to Back
03 Holy Joe
04 Earl
05 Vanite
06 Only One I
07 Today's Version
08 I Will
09 Mhona
10 Blind Tim
11 Crystal Streams
12 Zinc Lasso (Noose)
13 Back to Back (Alternate Mix)
14 Vanite (Alternate Mix)
15 Today's Version (Alternate Mix)
16 Mhona (Alternate Mix)

UK CD WMO [11CD] 1998


  1. great! many thanks for this

  2. I looked for those bonus tracks for a long time - thanks !

  3. Do you maybe have Bruce Gilbert solo works on Mute?

  4. AMG said of this "Although this reissue includes previously unreleased material and additional alternate versions, it's essential listening for Wire diehards only". They rated it 2/5

  5. And if I had a nickel for every time AMG just plain got something wrong . . . .

  6. you said it - even complained to them about some reviews.

  7. This CD release was not a good representation of the works. The master tape for this classic and priceless recording is apparently lost; the WMO CD was mastered from vinyl. This vinyl transfer was done from an inexpensive turntable that was running at the wrong speed; too fast. Zinc Lasso and Mhona (alternate mix) are 'clean' versions, mastered from a good source and they play at the correct speed. The difference between the alternate mixes and the vinyl remaster is quite a shock. I have to say that if you are a fan of Gilbert and Lewis' DOME project, the defects in this release are tolerable just for the sheer delight of pieces like 'Holy Joe'. Obviously, if you can get a vinyl copy, buy it for whatever the seller is asking, because those are the only true copies left of this truly great record.

  8. Hello

    can I just add that the CD was NOT mastered from vinyl but first generation cassettes. As for the speed I am assured that the casettes were at right speed.

    Kevin Eden - WMO

  9. Thanks Kevin for that correction, and for all the great work you have done over the years for these artists and their work.

  10. If you listen to a correctly running vinyl rip of "Time and Time" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8KAoXJWhCk you can hear that it is slower than the WMO CD, in this case, slower means near the correct speed. WMO did some great work releasing these classic records, and its not their fault that the master tapes were not available for the re-release of 'W.C.T.V.F.A.', but facts are facts, and these recordings sound better at the correct speed.

    The sound of this CD is like watching American television programmes (NTSC) on British TV (PAL) because the frame rates are faster in PAL, the sound of all American TV shows is faster than it should be. Some people are sensitive to this, others, not so much. Nevertheless,its an interesting artifact of pre digital culture.

  11. I was assured at the mastering stage that the cassettes were the correct as opposed to the vinyl which runs slower and is therefore assumed to be correct.
    Kevin - WMO