Release date 15 June 2010
The fruit of many years of work, this album began as People Like Us & Wobbly collected and collaged their way through various depictions of misfired communications and heartbreak sourced from popular culture for a series of live improvisations. Music For The Fire is a plunderphonic concept album depicting the lifespan of a relationship, as told through samples of hundreds of different songs and voices who had no idea they were all telling the same story until they were all spliced together.
Strangely direct and evocative for an album assembled entirely from a patchwork of disparate sources and music both obscure and over-familiar, Music For The Fire comes with an illustrated lyric sheet which reproduces the countless sampled voices as a single if utterly schizophrenic text — a bedtime story that is wildly inappropriate for actual children. No reliable narrators, just the familiar and absurd, which on different spins of the disc might strike you as either maudlin, poignant or almost painfully hilarious. There is a way out of the maze, but it’s up to you to find it.
Update (2013) – now available for download at UbuWeb
Update (2015) – this CD is now deleted
Since 1991 British artist Vicki Bennett (aka People Like Us) has been an influential figure in the field of audio visual collage, through her innovative sampling, appropriating and cutting up of found footage and archives. She has shown work at, amongst others, Tate Modern, the National Film Theatre, Purcell Room, Pompidou Center, Sonar in Barcelona, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the BBC and Channel 4, released albums of her work on labels such as Tigerbeat6, Soleilmoon and Touch, both solo and in collaboration with Matmos, Ergo Phizmiz, Christian Marclay and members of Negativland. 2010 will see the completion of a commission for the Edinburgh Art Festival as well as concert appearances at the AV Festival, MACBA, Liverpool Sound City, Copenhagen & Jerusalem.
Wobbly is the long-running collage project of Jon Leidecker (US), who improvises live with pre-recordings to coax the harmonies out of recorded sounds of individuals and animals from disparate cultures. Albums have been released on the labels Alku, Phthalo, Illegal Art, Tigerbeat6 and Vague Terrain. Previous and ongoing projects include the bands Chopping Channel, Sagan, the Freddy McGuire Show and Amen Seat, as well as various collaborations with Negativland, Matmos, Thomas Dimuzio, Blevin Blectum, Lesser, Tim Perkis & Xopher Davidson, Otomo Yoshihide and MaryClare Bryztwa. In 2009 he was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona to produce “Variations”, a podcast and lecture series overview of the history of musical collage & sampling.
People Like Us & Wobbly have been collaborating since her first visit to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998. Early improvisations as a trio (with The Jet Black Hair People, aka Peter Conheim of Negativland) are documented by the online album What’s The Use, as well as archives of numerous radio and concert appearances recorded both in California and London, including on BBC Radio 3‘s “Mixing It”. The present album for Illegal Art is composed from live recordings, carefully and obsessively edited over a great deal of time, and is their funniest, darkest and yet somehow strangely compassionate work, Music For The Fire tells a story which every listener will recognize in their own unique way.
With the release of People Like Us & Wobbly‘s Music For The Fire, Illegal Art continues to embrace a pay-what-you-want business model for high-quality downloads. All label releases over the last four years have been issued (or reissued) under a the flexible payment system, and the entire Illegal Art back catalog should be subsumed by the end of 2010. People Like Us & Wobbly also have a history of offering free downloads of entire projects, both new and old. Vicki Bennett is such a firm endorser of the gift economy that she is the top downloaded audio artist on UbuWeb. Her online-only album Abridged Too Far (2004) garnered over 25,000 downloads in its first month, and she adamantly defends such free offerings as beneficial to both the artist and consumer.
PEOPLE LIKE US
“… a freeform, unfolding imaginary landscape that is liberally peppered with slapstick.” – Phil England, The Wire
“Bennett has continued to impress us with her technical ability and her wonderful sense of the ridiculous.” – Olli Siebelt, BBC
“… beautiful, compelling, funny, crazy stuff. I listen to [People Like Us] while sitting at my drawing board.” – Matt Groening
“… it is that delirious adventure to tune in Disney cartoons while we administered a strong dose of amphetamines, LSD, and any other lysergic cocktail.” – J. Carlos Vellamueva, Rolling Stone (Mexico)
“… after prolonged exposure to the alchemical work of Vicki Bennett, we see and hear our own everyday world as one big joke which is already cut to pieces. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.” – Drew Daniel, Matmos
“… warped-out easy easy-listening goddess and sample abuser extraordinaire.” – Ben Willmott, NME
“Bennett has taken Eisenstein’s montage collisions and refashioned them as bumper cars at a seaside carnival.” – Jim Supanick, Film Society of Lincoln Center
“If only one album were to be timecapsuled for the turn of this century, Wild Why would be a worthy candidate” – Pataphysics Lab
“The head is dazzling of all the cut up and collage which go by in highspeed” – Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
“It would be pointless to try and characterize any of the sessions because the range of material they draw on is so diverse that the tracks are constantly changing direction” – Ben Borthwick, The Wire
“An expert at sculpting cohesive harmonies out of seemingly disjointed fragment.” – George Zahora, Splendid
“… a hewn diamond that, although beautiful, cuts through the most impermeable of solid bullshit.” – Tobias C. Van Veen, Stylus
“Wild Why is a staggering deconstruction of commercial urban radio, breaking down mainstream hip-hop and R&B into a sludge of guttural samples and low-end goo… the rules holding our own world together bend wildly under even the slightest pressure.” – Philip Sherburne, Needle Drops