Dome’s fourth album, ‘Will You Speak This Word’
Just like in the Judgment of Solomon, Wire broke up neatly, splitting in half. Robert Gotobed drummed on Colin Newman’s first three solo albums, while Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis put on their suits and “big tube heads” to become Dome.
Though they primarily recorded as a duo, Lewis and Gilbert had some interesting collaborators, such as Daniel Miller and Russell Mills, the artist who later designed the cover of The Downward Spiral. On “To Speak,” the nearly 20-minute composition that filled the A-side of Will You Speak This Word (a/k/a Dome 4), they were joined by Vince Clarke, then in Yazoo, late of Depeche Mode; Deb Danahay, Clarke’s onetime girlfriend and founder of the Depeche Mode and Yazoo fan clubs; novice saxophonist Terrence Leach; and folk violinist David Drinkwater, who now plays guitar in “Norfolk’s biggest ceilidh band.”
In Everybody Loves A History, the first Wire biography, Gilbert and engineer Eric Radcliffe suggest their main reason for inviting Clarke to the studio was that he knew how to play a Fairlight:
Bruce: Eric and Vince Clarke had formed some sort of partnership, and they were wizards on [the Fairlight], but it still had a lot of teething problems. We had several demonstrations of what it could do. It was a complete mystery to me and Graham.
Eric: I asked Vince if he’d come in, and play over a track because there was something missing.
Bruce: It consisted mostly of sampling Deborah Donahay’s [sic] voice and reconstructing it. It was an experiment.
Terence [sic] Leach was a friend of someone at the Waterloo Gallery, and was learning to play saxophone. David Drinkwater was someone who lived where Angela and I lived in Barnet. He’s a folk music fanatic, and played fiddle. Graham and I felt we would quite like the texture of a real violin, that we could manipulate. We asked him to go through his entire repertoire of violin sounds, plus his favourite licks. We simply manipulated the sound on tape.
Dome’s first four albums are still available on the twofer CDs Mute released in the nineties, and the record they made for 4AD under the name Cupol, Like This For Ages, was recently reissued. Yclept, Dome’s 1999 comeback, is very out of print, except as one of the discs in Editions Mego’s 2011 vinyl box Dome 1-4+5. Wire will celebrate their 40th anniversary with DRILL Festivals in Los Angeles, Leeds, Berlin, and Brussels over the next two months.
And “To Speak” is a wonderful piece of music. Skip to 5:58 in the clip below it for Wire’s “Eardrum Buzz” video, in which Vince Clarke briefly appears.