It was four years into the swim ~ label’s history before Bastard arrived. Like my previous albums, it was another collaboration – although this time only with my partner in life and crime, Malka Spigel.
There was a point in the ’90s when British music journalists basically didn’t get dance music and would refer to it as “faceless techno bollocks”. It was that very attribute that Malka and I felt most attracted to. In instrumental music, you could be anyone from anywhere. The only thing that mattered was how good your tunes were. In fact, for the first Immersion album, we pretended to be from Germany and were photographed in wigs and masks. This had the unexpected result of the album selling more copies in Germany than anywhere else!
With Bastard, it took a while to get to the concept, which was essentially this: What if we subverted the whole ‘bloke from Wire’thing and had a Colin Newman album without any actual songs on it? These days, this is not such a big thing, but it was hugelytransgressive at the time. The language of Bastard is house, techno, breakbeat, drum and bass, and doubtless post-rock. The onlysinging is a one-line Malka sample on ‘Turn’. Not only did the album not play by the rules of what would these days be called musicby a ‘heritage’ artist, but it didn’t play by the rules of dance music either. Back then, dance music artists didn’t mix up styles as theydo today. This is one of the reasons the album’s called Bastard.
Upon release, Bastard was modestly successful in comparison to the label’s other releases, although widely misunderstood. Thetitle is intentionally multifaceted, referring to several ways in which the album is a misfit – a cuckoo in the nest. But it never meant‘Colin Newman is a bastard’ – even if Malka’s toy finger gesture on the cover tempted fate on that!
Malka and I have done more work together on swim ~ – and, of course, there has been plenty of Wire activity after its second hiatus during the 1990s – but I never felt the need to do another solo album. I don’t crave attention and certainly don’t feel I lackways to express myself. In many ways, it’s more creative to collaborate with others.
There is joy and beauty in collaboration. And collaborating with Malka has become so effortless that we almost don’t know whodoes what in the work we create. This has led us to throwing open our partnership via Nanocluster events and albums where webuild musical bridges and make partnerships that transcend the art. Maybe that’s the point? Surely, art should be about human connection and diversity of expression?
Colin Newman, Brighton, 2023 (from album sleeve notes)
LP & CD1
Slowfast (falling down the stairs with a drumkit)
The Orange House & the Blue House
The Narrativ (with Corrado Izzo)
Time Will Allow
Cut The Slack (2001)
Found & Bound (2001)
Flight Mode (2008)
Tracks 1–4 taken from 1995 EP Voice.
Tracks 5–8 originally appeared on swim team #1 and swim team #2.
Tracks 9–12 previously unreleased and exclusive to this edition.