Originally appearing on the GIITTV site.

Illegal Art / 2010


Most art driven musical projects tend to be conceptually sound, but fall foul in the coherent listening experience stakes– if you’ve ever heard a Fluxus musical soirée then you’ll know what I mean.

British audio collage artist Vicki Bennett – People Like Us – alongside the US improvisation artist Jon Leidecker – Wobbly – both successfully marry a staggering inventive polygenesis collection of tunes to a concept.

Our duo has previous form working with musicians and compatriots alike, from Matmos and Nativland to Dadaist in residence, Ergo Phizmiz, who your reviewer as also worked with.

Since 1998 they’ve recorded the odd online album and performed on the BBC 3choice radio show Mixing It’, whilst also individually showing work across a whole spectrum of impressive concert halls and institutions.

The premise of Music For Fire is that each individual song is entirely constructed out of samples and snatches of dialogue from TV, film, radio and commercial music, which are then spliced together or looped to invoke certain synonymous themes, found within long-term relationships and the growing pains we all face.

Snippets of music from the likes of Johnny Cash, on the track Goodbye, to 10 CC, Female Convict, settle alongside lines plucked straight from westerns, noir and music hall matinees to great effect and skill.

Stand out’s include the amusingly hummed Carly Simon theme tune from the Spy Who Loved Me intro on Naked Little Girl. Knock about whimsical charm runs counter to the cut-up version of The Carpenters, whose back catalogue pops up from time to time, injecting haunting tones of beguiling charm.

Giant Love Ball repeats the inspiring first bars of the Marvin Gaye song I Heard It Through The Grapevine until it all becomes slightly scary and a cacophony of whirls, xylophones, disjointed guitar licks and disturbing Foley sounds take over, before a joyous furore from some long forgotten children’s show leaps onto the scene. This cheerful, though quite creepy too, ditty doesn’t hang around too long before it’s interrupted by a Wagner chorus of operatic dread.

Whereas on the moodily piano led Fertile, cut ups of rather arcane wildlife commentary on rabbits enforces the all too obvious message of the song – think The Books meets David Attenborough.

There’s even a soul number, of sorts, on the track Bad News, with Barry White being ceremonially messed up to make room for a saddened redolent Issac Hayes monologue. This tale of woe sounds like Prince Paul meets Stockhausen.

People Like Us & Wobbly encourage their listeners to find connections amongst the clever deluge of readymade material, as Bavarian ommpah loompah bands, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, theatrical numbers, Bossanova and radio hall broadcasts all appear on this, at times, emotive sweeping opus of stolen moments. But then this album has been released on Illegal Art, who embraces the pay-what-you-want business model even going as far as to give away material.

The final closing line of “Nothing succeeds in this world like imagination” perfectly encapsulates the ambitions of this minor opus that both charms and draws you in.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: