With its issue number 170 (April 1998), the influential U.K. avant-garde music magazine The Wire launched its Wire Tapper series: sampler CDs given only to subscribers. This first installment is the most focused and easy to listen to of them all. Truly experimental music (musique concrète, free improv, glitch, sound art) is absent, except for two tracks from Paratactile and Mille Plateaux releases, but that does not mean this CD covers limited ground. The listener bounces from techno-dance driven tracks like Mimi's "Piece of Cake" and Mixmaster Mike's "Can of Ass Kicks" to Mass' freeform jam "Depth" and the traditional Arabic music of Nassim Maalouf's "Tarab (Rest)." This volume's high percentage of major label music as opposed to underground imprints also makes it stand out of the series (with music by DJ Food/David Byrne, Arto Lindsay, Scala). A few tracks are exclusive to the collection (the remix of DJ Food vs. David Byrne's "Fuzzy Freaky [Via Joe]") or hard to find elsewhere (2nd Gen's "Malady Made Simple" comes from a limited edition 7"). Vol. 1 gives a good idea of The Wire's editorial choices at the time. The whole series shows its evolution.
AllMusic Review by François Couture