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Baker's Dozen

Harmonic Worlds: Colin Newman's 13 Favourite Albums
Ben Graham , July 17th, 2018 10:09

The Immersion, Wire and Githead founder member chooses a list that goes from minimalism to maximalism, via Steve Reich, LFO and Todd Rundgren, and tells Ben Graham how Britpop was rubbish but The Beatles have never sounded better

"We just had a review for the album which is like the best that you could possibly have for any record ever," says Immersion's Colin Newman, speaking via Skype midway through a US tour. "One of the lines says 'You will love Sleepless if you have ears'."

Newman- best known, of course, as singer-guitarist in Wire- founded Immersion with partner Malka Spiegel (Minimal Compact, Githead, and an acclaimed solo artist) in the early 90s. The just-released Sleepless is their fifth album and the follow-up to 2016's Analogue Creatures Living on An Island, which saw them reviving the project after a 17-year gap. In some ways the return of Immersion was a response to the pair's relocation to Brighton, where they've recently begun hosting the collaborative, experimental Nanocluster nights at the town's tiny Rose Hill Arts Centre.

"When we started again with Immersion, we didn't have any illusions about whether we had an audience or not," Newman says. "That was combined with the fact that we've been living in Brighton now for almost four years, and we felt it was quite important for us to build a scene in Brighton for us, so we started to think about what we could do."

Each Nanocluster is built around a collaborative performance featuring Immersion and a guest artist, with sets written and rehearsed in advance; guests so far have included Tarwater, Laetitia Sadier and Ulrich Schnauss. "The rules for the combined set are that it has to be completely original material and it's not a jam," Newman says. "They have to be worked out pieces. Obviously you have the freedom to play what you like at the time, but they have structures."

It's tempting to see Newman's Baker's Dozen choices as reflecting this dynamic between structure and freedom, but actually that's probably over-stating the case. "I just think it's a great record," Newman says later. "But as with all of my tastes I don't expect anyone to understand it- or see what the connection is between these things."

Immersion's Sleepless is out now, as are Wire's recent reissues of their first three albums. Please click the picture of Colin Newman below to begin reading his selections

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