Tickets now available for the World Premiere of The Keystone Cut Ups

Opening Gala – The Keystone Cut Ups
People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz
15th September 2010
Location: The Maltings Theatre, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, UK
UK / 2010 / 40 min / Cert. Suggested 12

World Premiere
The premiere performance of the new commission from artists People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz opens the Festival. The Keystone Cut Ups is a live performance that combines video-collage with an original musical score, created using sampling and live instrumentation, to explore the aesthetic, contextual and stylistic relationships between early silent-comedy and early avant-garde cinema.

Using the influence of slapstick comedy on the Surrealists as a starting point, the piece takes us on a madcap journey, combining the techniques and popular imagery of the two genres.

The Surrealists took to cinema easily, using it as a device to show their disdain for established artistic tradition. In their quest to liberate the imagination, they believed that the process of juxtaposing unrelated elements would create images of great emotional and poetic power. Thomas Pynchon wrote, “one could combine inside the same frame, elements not normally found together to produce illogical and startling effects”.
In early silent films the actors often came from the Vaudeville tradition. They used flamboyant body language and facial expressions, a style suited to melodramatic comedy, which was popular at the time for its escape value. The earliest films were influenced by the presentation methods of theatre and the stage sets and inclusion of orchestras and dancers were motifs of entertainment that stuck throughout cinema’s evolution.

The Keystone Cut Ups employs a surrealist approach, presenting images side by side on the screen at the same time. It includes the everyday objects, such as top hats or umbrellas that were utilized as props by both slapstick comedians and the Surrealists, as well as reflecting the concerns of the day like mass industrial automation, and the stories made popular through film at the time, which included clunky monsters and the fantasy of trips to the moon.

The work reflects simultaneously on the histories of these two distinct schools of cinema and how they inform one another, whilst producing a work whose structure and format is informed by both silent comedy and early experimental and avant garde cinema. – Iain Pate

Don’t miss this unique event (which we have slaved over for the past two months!!!), followed by a drinks reception in the Maltings’ Stage Door Bar.

A new commission for People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz

Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival
15–19 September 2010

Now in its 6th year, the Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival returns to celebrate the art of film in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Over the course of five action-packed days, we will be offering a whole range of feature and short films, artists’ film and video work and specially commissioned pieces. These will be screened at the Maltings and other unique architectural locations across town as part of the Artist’s trail.

This year’s theme, Stagings, explores the role of the screen as a stage, turning Berwick itself into a platform for screening, projecting and staging moving image. The selected works offer different approaches to the relationship between performer, camera and audience and will include dance on film, music videos and old classics – something for everyone: from children to families to fans of film, art, theatre and music.
There are four new commissions this year, of which one is for the creation of a brand new live a/v performance from People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz to be premiered in Berwick on Wednesday 15 September.

People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz – Over the past five years the collaboration of People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz has produced two full length albums, a podcast series, a live soundtrack to Christian Marclay’s ‘Screenplay’, a 7″ single on Touch, and a 10″ EP. Their work has been disseminated internationally to widespread critical acclaim, straddling the absurd with the accessible, filtering experimental and avant-garde techniques through the looking glass of humorous pop music. They have come to resemble something akin to the Morecambe & Wise of the avant-garde…

Individually both artists have produced a vast body of work that collectively spans hundreds of hours, across film, theatre, albums, radio and live performance. Most recently People Like Us released the album ‘Music For The Fire’ in collaboration with Wobbly on the Illegal Art label (with a new solo record due later in the year). Ergo’s most recent productions are the new album ‘Things to Do and Make’ on Care in the Community Recordings, and the contemporary opera about radio, magic and death ‘The Mourning Show’.

The other commissions by other artists are:

Mat Fleming, Deborah Bower and Harriet Plewis – Mat has been making films since he was 18 with a special enthusiasm for 8mm and 16mm film. In 2001 he co-founded Cineside, which became the Side Cinema, and then Star and Shadow Cinema collective. Deborah is an artist, film enthusiast and zine maker. Having studied fine Art, she works mainly with film and the pieces often involve lone characters performing to camera in a cinematic manner. Harriet is a performance artist, movement director and co-founder of experimental theatre collective, The Awkwards. She trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq, Paris and frequently performs with companies including Zephyr in Zanussi Dance Collectif and Factory Party Productions. Her work, often comic, is concerned with the representation of authenticity and modern approaches to protest.

Corin Sworn – originally from Canada, Corin now lives and works in Glasgow. Her practice examines shifting ideals and understandings from one period in history to another. Sworn examines these themes through the production of objects, ephemera and films. These films use various historical events and understandings to construct loose narratives that wander among fragments of the past. Through the use of appropriation much of her work is built from these ‘fragments’.

BJ Nilsen – is a Swedish sound and recording artist. His work is primarily focused on the sound of nature and its effect on humans, field recordings, and the perception of time and space as experienced through sound, often electronically treated. Nilsen has created worked for documentary film, television and sound designer. He has collaborated with, among others, Chris Watson, Christian Fennesz, Hildur Gudnadottir, Semiconductor, Brandon La Belle, Phillip Jeck and Jon Wozencroft.

Ergo Phizmiz Special on DO or DIY

DO or DIY with People Like Us – Ergo Phizmiz Special
Wednesday 15th September

Join Ergo Phizmiz in the studio for this week’s DO or DIY featuring the premiere broadcast of the entirety of Ergo Phizmiz’s score for “La Puce de Neige” (“The Snow Flea”), a mime puppet-opera for Buchinger’s Boot Marionettes, which premiered in Marseille, November 2009.

The show, created for children, tells the story of Kerugug, a snow flea who in the Arctic who is displaced to Antartica through a hole in the world, and his journey back – with an evil ice-cream in hot pursuit, sneaking snow fleas to use as anti-freeze in his produce. The piece combines field-recordings of Inuit folk songs with a memetic score that references Mussorgsky, Moondog, French folk songs, Augustus Pablo, Prokofiev, Strauss, and Raymond Scott.

Free download of Perpetuum Mobile with bonus film!

We are very pleased to announce that we are now giving a download of our album Perpetuum Mobile (by People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz) away for free! This is still available as a CD with beautiful packaging, from our shop but if you like your mp3s then here they are…
Here’s the artwork

Free film “Ghosts Before Breakfast” to go with Perpetuum Mobile
Also, “Ghosts Before Breakfast” from Perpetuum Mobile has a film to go with it! We are making it available for the first time ever now.

“Ghosts Before Breakfast” Hans Richter (1928) / People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz (2007) from Vicki WFMU on Vimeo.

Here’s the press release for this wonderful offering by People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz:

“Perpetuum Mobile” is the result of a uniquely schizophrenic “open source” compositional process: the UK’s finest collage composers Ergo Phizmiz and People Like Us (aka Vicki Bennett) uploaded files to a shared server, downloaded and processed each other’s work, and flung the resulting fragments back at each other. The result is an interpenetrating audio-collage so intricate that neither party can recall who did what to whom. So far, so avant-garde; but what makes this record different is that Ergo and Vicki then wrote and sang their own vocals on top of their Frankenstein creation. Here you will find slyly absurdist lyrics replete with monkeys, carousels, trousers, apple trees, tinkling bells, dogs, sausages, whiskey, and cannibalism. No matter how fraught with trauma, these ballads and ditties are sung with a straight face and mixed front and center, and the results feel like 1930s British music hall standards from an alternate universe: half Ivor Cutler, half George Formby. The astonishing thing is that for all this jiggery-pokery, “Perpetuum Mobile” makes for an exhilarating, remarkably fresh pop album. It works. On “Ghosts Before Breakfast” Ergo and Vicki proudly declare that they’ve got “quite a selection of pastry”, and if the profusion of cuckoo clocks, gunshots, horn farts, string vamps, and digital malfeasance which go hurtling through this opening track is any indication, that’s no idle boast. For sheer cornucopia of sonic raw materials, this track’s avalanche of information sets the tone for the overflowing, manic record that follows. There’s far too much to fully parse, but among the highlights: “Beyond Perpetuum” pushes off from the Comedian Harmonists’ take on the 19th century compositional craze for “moto perpetuo” runs of continuous notes at a rapid tempo, and folds found piano, voice and strings into an interlocking array of M.C. Escher harmonic stairways. “Air Hostess” is detourned lounge pop that stitches together Nelson Riddle’s “Ya Ya” theme to “Lolita”, “Walk Right In”, light operettas, organ, bachelor pad cha cha and mambo, and nervously twitching shards of Louis Armstrong. “Pierrot’s Persecution Mania” bravely explores the possibilities of a Montparnasse-via-Dixieland hybrid of can-can and bluegrass, with ridiculous canned strings colliding with jew’s harp boings, while “Soggy Style” rides banjo twangs, a digital bossa nova breakdown, and the “whooo-ooes” nicked from Terry Stafford’s “Suspicion”. Living up to the perpetual motion of its title and cock-a-hoop cover art, this is a frantically energetic music whose layered repetitions become cumulatively more disorienting and preposterous as they loop back. “Perpetuum Mobile” goes beyond the stealth-oldies nostalgia of the mashup scene and the “culture-jamming” rhetoric of plunderphonics, and shows Mr. Ergo and Ms. Vicki to be a potent, if Surrealist, songwriting team, and together they braid oddly affecting vocals and their trademark stolen audio into twenty-first century pop. Like the perpetual motion machines for which it is named, this collaboration will run and run and run and run and run and run and run… – Drew Daniel

Watch People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz in Concert!

Indeed yes, here we are.
Here’s the whole concert of People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz in Concert at The Sound Source: ‘The Art of Sampling’ – Kings Place London, on Tuesday 11th November 2008.
Thank you to Chris Jinks at Vitalsign Productions for filming the concert and allowing us to share it with you.

Please give the above a moment to load into your browser, and if you cannot see the play button below the image, try hitting your spacebar.
Download by right-clicking here.

Continue reading

People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz Play London’s Cafe Oto

People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz will be playing a joint set at Cafe Oto in Dalston, London on Saturday 1st August.

Doors open 8pm, Tickets £7 – which we recommend you buy in advance now since Cafe Oto is popular!
Cafe Oto site programme/tickets

The live performance will combine material from the last four People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz releases. Vicki & Ergo perform a set that crosses sampling with the English nonsense tradition, traditional composition with electronic music, and contemporary approaches to sound with melodic and textural fragments of orchestral music. The sound of the two artists collaborating has often been compared to circus or carnival music, and stands as a separate and distinct entity to the two artists individual work. It is perhaps best described as “woozy dream circus”.

There will be two 25 minute sets preceded by a number of short films by the artists, starting shortly after 8pm.

Special offer: the first 15 people arriving at Oto for this performance will receive a People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz CD.

Want to hear some People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz?

Cafe Oto site programme

Want to see what we sound like?

Rhapsody In Glue now available for free download!

We are very pleased to announce that the recently deleted “Rhapsody in Glue” digital album by People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz from 2008 is now available for the first time for free download!

Many thanks to our friends at UbuWeb for hosting this album, which can be sourced here –

You can also download the album by clicking on the links below.
1. Snow Day
2. Gary’s Anatomy
3. Pussycat Giantess
4. English Hunting Song
5. Blame It On The Waltz
6. Carmic Waltz
7. Troika Country Garden
8. Social Folk Dance
9. Smiling Through My
10. In The Waking
11. Dancing in the Carmen
12. Antisocial Boogie
13. Withers in the Whist

For background on the album please read on.

Following the success of the critically acclaimed “Perpetuum Mobile” CD of 2007, renowned UK collagists / composers People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz reunite for “Rhapsody in Glue”, a cycle of bricolage-ballet-music, skewed-waltzes, and skewiff-pop.
There is a story behind every album, and with “Rhapsody in Glue” we find a unique approach to constructing a record. Both long-term contributors to New York radio station WFMU, People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz decided to publicly tear apart their respective practices and create an album “in the open”, presenting on a seafood-filled-platter the process of collaborative collage composition – informally discussing and jabbering nonsense to one another, resulting in the “Codpaste” free podcast series (which we have also recently made available as an mp3 download). “Rhapsody in Glue” is the culmination of the ideas explored in the podcast series.

“Rhapsody in Glue” continues in the bizarre ballroom vein of their previous efforts together, however, increasing the sonic palette into textural depths previously uncharted in their work. If “Carmic Waltz” is an expressionist painting by aged ballroom dance teacher who’s eaten the wrong kind of mushrooms in her soufflé, then “Gary’s Anatomy” is a slice of pure absurdist pop shot through with slabs of exotica and Ethel Merman. Recurring through the record is an apparent obsession with Prokofiev’s “Troika (Sleigh Ride)”, which merges and mashes with Burt Bacharach and Queen on “Snow Day”, and lapses into pure fantasy on the almost entirely acoustic “Withers in the Whist”, jarring with Ergo’s strange, Victoriana obsessed lyrics. Then on “Dancing in the Carmen” we discover what happens if Nana Mouskouri is thrown into a pot with Peggy Lee and let simmer for 10 minutes, whilst “In The Waking” shimmers along on multitracked guitars, meandering melodies, and music boxes.

Later in 2008, the duo later went on to release a 7″ with Touch entitled “Withers In The Waking“.

Ergo Phizmiz

People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz “Withers in the Waking” 7″

Released October 2008
on Touch (TS08)

The 8th in the series of Touch Sevens, and the first to introduce melodic narrative. Both songs are results of the WFMU podcast series “Codpaste”, in which Vicki & Ergo publicly composed a series of collage compositions, deconstructing their respective practices, and a live soundtrack to Christian Marclay’s “ScreenPlay”. The series and soundtrack resulted in the online only album “Rhapsody in Glue”, from which these two songs are alternative versions.

“Withers in the Whist” takes one of Vicki & Ergo’s current staple obsessions: the melody line of Prokofiev’s ‘Troika’ from the Lieutenant Kije soundtrack (originally used in V & E’s work during a particularly snowy sequence of the Marclay film). This treatment dispenses with sampling entirely, instead using instruments to create variations on Prokofiev’s deceptively simple melody-line, tied together with impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. It is playing with Prokofiev like a bad child who loves it’s toys.
“In The Waking” began with Ergo replaying with multitracked guitars the main melodic motifs Vicki collaged in the composition “Carmic Waltz”, with Vicki then ornamenting the guitars with splashes of colour like a real painter of sound, all blended into a pot of carnival steam with Ergo’s wordplay. It is a fantasy for the dream the fairground has when the world is sleeping, but only takes place five minutes before the carousel wakes up
Side A: In the Waking 5:55 [Locked groove]
Side B: Withers in the Whist 4:27

UK – price including P&P: $8.50
Buy in UK
EUROPE – price including P&P: $9.50
Buy in rest of Europe
ELSEWHERE – price including P&P: $10.50
Buy in rest of world