The British experimental-music magazine The Wire got in on the ground floor of the post-rock/electronica boom, and it's been refreshing to witness a publication finally thriving on writing about esoterica. What other newsstand regular would risk putting Stockhausen, Arto Lindsay, or John Fahey on its cover, with such not-quite-mainstream artists as Björk, Nick Cave, and Sonic Youth comprising the extent of commercial concession? While one of The Wire's many joys is its implicit guarantee that each month will offer something new and unfamiliar, the magazine is not without its more accessible fare. The regular "Invisible Jukebox" section, for example, is one of The Wire's most entertaining features: Each month, an artist is plopped down in front of a stereo and challenged to identify the music the interviewer has selected. Rather than try to stump the subjects, however, The Wire's interviewers generally choose music that each interviewee should recognize, songs and artists somehow related to the music each makes. In the new Invisible Jukebox, an enjoyable collection of some of The Wire's most productive sessions, composer Philip Glass is subjected to Aphex Twin, with whom he collaborated at one point. The Fall's Mark E. Smith gets to talk about Public Enemy's confrontational "Bring The Noise," while the incisive Steve Albini revels (as usual) in the opportunity to eviscerate that to which he is made to listen. Several electronic artists who remain relatively obscure in America—Mixmaster Morris, Goldie, Graham Massey, Alex Paterson, and more—get to prove that they know more about music than just pressing play on a drum machine. Such elder statesmen as Jack Bruce, Gavin Bryars, John Cale, Peter Hammill, and Robert Wyatt, on the other hand, gain platforms from which they illustratively comment on contemporary music. It's remarkable to discover just how much Neneh Cherry and Elvis Costello, for example, know about music from rock to pop to classical to jazz. Reading the opinions of these various artists is incentive enough to seek out the music they praise, making Invisible Jukebox as educational as it is entertaining.

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