April 1 , 2006

Issue IV:
Escape from NY
White Hassle,SXSW,
and Mardi Gras


The Telescopes


Pablo Gad

Hard Times

Charles Manson





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Chairs Missing
Pink Flag2006


Chairs Missing, jam-packed with catchy late-modernist gems, bristling with cloudy electric tension, is Wire's masterpiece. In the few months since Pink Flag the songs slowed down, stretched out, and took much more time to betray the punch lines. The guitar sounds are more varied with all kinds of clean/dirty, feedback and reverb and colored by ambient synths. These Sci-Fi pocket epics to gradually unfold upon themselves as the jagged edges penetrate the rounded haze of the smoke-filled distopia. Psychosocial, psychedelic, psychotic, and perhaps even psychotropic if taken in heavy doses. All within three minute pop songs (hey - that’s three times the length of Pink Flag’s). I love the twenty short spastic gems on Pink Flag and the scattered dark ethereal electronic grandiosity of 154 – but this middle album of the holy trinity is the best conceived, most original, and most powerful. And Chairs Missing is the only one that’s remained with me consistently through my many phases and tastes. But then again I’m a sucker for a transitional record.

“Practice Makes Perfect” is one of the most intense LP intros there is - building on itself as 19th Century stage star Sarah Bernhardt is waiting for us. “French Film Blurred,” “Marooned,” “Mercy” (which was the intro to side two in the old days), and “I Feel Mysterious Today,” with their ambient keys and tense development, contain just enough early Pink Floyd elements to make Wire finally worthy of inclusion on Harvest Records (incidentally, are my absolute favorites of Wire’s career). “Another Letter” and “Used To” are testament to the fact that they recorded this with Kraftwerk’s pictures on the wall and anticipate the next phase of their work as much as “Men 2nd,” “Sand in My Joints,” “From the Nursery” and “Too Late” sound like leftovers from the previous phase (which really ended where this album begins). “Being Sucked in Again” combines the late-period synth basis shaded with early-period guitar play in the same fashion that “I Am the Fly” mixes the synth basis with the signature Chairs Missing post-Floyd guitar. “Heartbeat,” with its two dimensional bubblegum repetition, could be a Suicide song but also anticipates stuff a decade down like Jesus and the Mary Chain and Spaceman 3. “Outdoor Miner” is pure straightforward jangly Byrdsy guitar pop for the dawn of the post-punk era.

While not approaching the brilliance of the rest, the three bonus tracks are still excellent. The fine single “Question of Degree,” the abstract loopfest B-side “Former Airline,” and the electronic 154 song “Go Ahead.”

Everything from “Practice Makes Perfect” to “Too Late” is flawless not only alone but also as a unit – which is interesting for me because, before now, I’ve only listened to it split in half on vinyl. And the stuff has taken on a life of its own in a number of different realms. "Outdoor Miner" has been a college radio staple for years and, beginning around the turn of the century, I began hearing "I Am the Fly" with increasing frequency in clubs. While I don't know if the remastering, original reordering, and bonus tracks warrant buying Chairs Missing all over again, I wholeheartedly recommend you giving the whole thing another spin if its been a while - or grab a copy if you're in need.


Buy it at Insound!


© New York Night Train , 2006