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V/A - A Houseguest's Wish: Translations on Wire's "Outdoor Miner"

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Artist: V/A

Album: A Houseguest's Wish: Translations on Wire's "Outdoor Miner"

Label: Words On Music

Review date: May. 20, 2005

On Friday nights, I work as a doorman. I seldom leave the bar until around 3 a.m., when the last cigarette butt is swept up and the last stool is slid back into place. Then, I take an hour-long bus ride back to my neighborhood. I’m often too tired to read, or to absorb new music. So I click rewind on my discman, again and again. I listen to the same song, dozens of times if it suits me. I see how it changes over the course of the trip, what jumps out the sixth time that didn't the fifth.

I’d gladly put Wire’s “Outdoor Miner” to that test. The spry, enigmatic pop ditty exists in several editions - the best known graces the band’s LP Chairs Missing. Over its bubbly hook, the lyrics relate an insect’s existential terror. It was almost a hit, shot down by industrial forces too complex to relate here. It’s the sort of song everyone’s going to hear differently.

Now, we all get to listen to 19 spins on “Outdoor Miner.” Swervedriver vet Adam Franklin casts it as lilting acoustic charmer. By way of Titania, it’s glittering dream-pop. Kick In The Floods render it pulsing electro-minimalism. Polar, Experimental Aircraft and Flying Saucer Attack make it three distinct, noisy dirges.

Not a lot of big names. Fiel Garvie bears a fuckload of similarity to Medicine. Lush, you might recall - whether or not singer Miki Berenyi still sports the short skirts and orange hair, one can't tell from the band's relatively faceless contribution.

A Houseguest’s Wish would’ve been more memorable had it included a few truly bizarre experiments. It doesn’t. Most readings cleave to the mopey, literate mood music for which Words On Music is known. Still, it’s a rare occasion when one song merits nineteen consecutive listens, and this set bears enough variety to flow. It’ll give you something to mull, all the way home.

By Emerson Dameron

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