Wilco to Package Collection of Previously Unreleased Improvisations with New 160-Page 'Wilco Book'
Wilco Day duly marked on Pitchfork calendar; Radiohead sad
Cory D. Byrom reports:
Pitchfork Devil, meet Pitchfork Angel: We've got good Wilco news, and bad Wilco news (well, not that bad-- our Devil is kind of a puss). Let's start with the good: The band is currently working on a picture book, with an accompanying CD, to be released by PictureBox, Inc., a visual-culture studio based in New York. PictureBox's design, editing, and writing team, Dan Nadel and Peter Buchanan-Smith, worked closely with Wilco for over a year on the project, which is described as "a visual equivalent of the band's music."
To this end, the 160-page book will feature contributions from, among others, author Rick Moody (The Ice Storm), artist Fred Tomaselli (paintings and stuff), and photographer Michael Schmelling (Spin, Wired), alongside archival material from Henry Miller (oversexed author of Tropic of Cancer, among others). Additionally, the band provides background to the book's images in the mode of long-form captions about such topics as touring and recording-- you know, all that band stuff that most of us know nothing about.
Additionally-- and here's the really good news-- a full-length 40-minute CD of unreleased material will be included in the package. The tracks on the disc will include material culled from the improvisational sessions for A Ghost is Born (which is, as previously reported, due out today via Nonesuch Records-- you might have noticed we've reviewed it!) as well as other songs recorded over the past two years. According to PictureBox's Dan Nadel, although the 12 tracks are taken from many different sessions, the band managed to pull them together for a distinctive album feel, rather than presenting them as a disparate collection of outtakes. Fans can expect the creatively titled The Wilco Book in October, but preorders, and a nifty shot of the cover, can be yours right now, through Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.
And onto the bad news. When Wilco chose the title Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for their 2002 release, who'd have guessed that the phrase would get them into legal trouble? Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. The album track "Poor Places" contained a sample that belonged to UK experimental music label Irdial-Discs, and in a classic Vanilla Ice, pre-sample era move, no one in Wilco or at Warner Bros. asked for permission to use the sample. As a result, Irdial brought a high court action against WEA International (Warner Bros., Elektra, Atlantic) demanding that royalties be paid for the minute-and-thirty-second sample, which was taken from a collection of espionage "numbers stations." WEA International has reportedly "reluctantly agreed" to pay the due royalties.
These so-called numbers stations are found on shortwave radio, and are said to be used by espionage agencies worldwide, such as the CIA and MI5, to communicate with field agents. Irdial's collection, known as The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations, is a four-disc set that captures recordings from these stations. The sample in question, in case you were wondering, involves a female voice repeatedly intoning the words "yankee hotel foxtrot."