Various The Fire This Time

Not to be confused with the political dub project of Afro-Indian producer Patrick Andrade, The Fire This Time is a 73-minute audio-essay on the Iraq crisis set to a soundtrack by various anti-war, electronic musicians. British filmmaker Grant Wakeling does most of the narration, beginning with reflections on the ancient history of Baghdad as a civilization of high learning. He fast-forwards through to the British occupation of Iraq after World War I, the American attempts to thwart Iraq’s pre-Saddam democracy, the war with Iran and finally the Gulf War. The amount of information is enormous and at times overwhelming, but never boring because the facts are meticulously clear, particularly when dealing with under-examined subject of oil. The 1990 invasion of Kuwait is re-visited within the context of economic violence — i.e., the Kuwaiti over-production of oil and the disastrous consequences for an impoverished Iraqi economy. It’s enough to make the listener politically sympathetic, but not necessarily in solidarity, with Saddam’s cause. The main thrust of The Fire however is on the casualties of the war as well as the sanctions. The music of outfits like Orbital, Higher Intelligence Agency and Pan-Sonic lose their cold, apolitical stereotype here and show much more vitality when mixed with Wakeland’s commentary. Most of it is on the ambient or glitch-dub side of things, but then there are moments like the skull-crushing, tech-noise on Aphex Twin’s "Come To Daddy” (re-titled as "Say Hello to Allah”) combating sound-bites from the 1991 bombing. While nothing is more horrific than the vocal re-construction of rape on Speedy J and Kait Gray’s "Nails In the Wall,” the likelihood of these acts representing a mere fragment of the kind of violence taking place in recent days disturbs us most. (Hidden Art)