NOTATIONS – the film by Vicki Bennett (People Like Us) created for live performance by improvising artists and musicians, will tour the UK in November 2013, produced by Tusk and commissioned by Sound and Music as part of their Touring Programme for 2013.


Sound And Music and Tusk Music are delighted to announce this tour of Vicki Bennett’s film-collage-as-visual-score Notations, to be soundtracked by a unique combination of leading improvising artists at each event.

Notations has been created by Vicki from hundreds of different film clips, where the content conceptually or literally portrays different kinds of ‘gestures’ or ‘instructions’ to be read by the improvising artists on stage as a visual score.

This marks a return to working with improvised audio and video, both on radio and in front of an audience.  Between 1996-2003 Vicki performed both solo and with Jon Leidecker (Wobbly), Matt Wand (Stock, Hausen and Walkman), Matmos, members of Negativland and Kenneth Goldsmith.

To soundtrack Notations, Vicki and Tusk have recruited an impressive international cast of improvisers, each with radically different approaches and, as each show will feature a different combination of artists, every performance on the tour will be completely unique. So each show will feature a carefully chosen trio of live respondents to Notations from the cast of Bill OrcuttRhodri DaviesM.C. Schmidt (Matmos), Philip JeckJaap BlonkSteve NobleWobblyMark SandersTomomi Adachi and Jennifer Walshe.

Star & Shadow Cinema, Stepney Bank, NE1 2NP
8pm   £8/10
Kraak, 11 Stevenson Square, M1 1DB
7.30pm   £8/7
Nov 16 – LEEDS (as part of Leeds International Film Festival)
Hyde Park Picture House, Brudenell Road, LS6 1JD
9pm   £8/£6
Nov 29 – LONDON
Cafe Oto, 18-22 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL
8pm  £8/10
Nov 30 – BRISTOL
Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA
7.30pm  £8/6

Each event will also begin with an audiovisual performance by People Like Us of Consequences (One Thing Leads To Another)which places similar but emerging subject matter side by side to construct the narrative, a story emerging as a sum of the preceding parts yet digressing on a tangent.  All actions have consequences, and here we see them played out, to wondrous and catastrophic effect!

Watch a section from Consequences (One Thing Leads To Another) on UbuWeb!

NOTATIONS TRAILER Manchester w/ M.C. Schmidt / Wobbly / Jennifer Walshe. Film by Vicki Bennett

More info on the artists:

Vicki Bennett is an influential figure in the field of audio visual collage, through her innovative sampling, appropriating and cutting up of found footage and archives. Using collage as her main form of expression, she creates audio recordings, films and radio that communicate a humorous, dark and often surreal view on life. Vicki operates under the moniker People Like Us and promotes an open access to archives for creative use.

Bill Orcutt first came to attention as guitarist in insane Miami band Harry Pussy, famed for their frenetic and discordant performances and his then-wife Adris Hoyo’s seminally fiery primitive/spasmodic drumming. Harry Pussy imploded in the late 90s but Orcutt re-emerged in 2009 with A New Way To Pay Old Debts, a truly guttural home-recorded stream-of-consciousness via battered guitar with only 4 strings left and occasional involuntary vocalisations. Has since released records via Editions Mego as well as his own Palilalia imprint, and formed an occasional duo with Chris Corsano.

Our favourite Rhodri Davies story concerns his being booed off stage for destroying his instrument at a very conservative harp festival. Davies takes this traditional instrument and does very un-traditional things with it, from applying dry ice to the strings to make them squeal to constructing installations that play it with wind and water. Regular collaborators include David Toop, John Tilbury and John Butcher and such luminaries as Elian Radigue, Christian Wolff and Yasunao Tone have composed specifically for him.

M.C. Schmidt is best known as one half of Californian (now relocated to Baltimore) duo Matmos, renowned for marrying a love of electronic pop with musique concrete tactics and a penchant for unusual sound sources (liposuction surgery, amplified crayfish nerve tissue, latex fetish clothing, contact mics on human hair…). In 2001 they were invited to work with Bjork on her Vespertine album, leading to two world tours as part of her band, and have also collaborated with Zeena Parkins, Antony, David Tibet, Marina Abramovic and many others.

Philip Jeck rescues old records and turntables from junk shops and creates something beautiful from them. He won the 1993 Time Out Performance Award for his most famous work Vinyl Requiem, a performance for 180 vintage record players and has released a series of records on the renowned Touch label and collaborated with Gavin Bryars, Otomo Yoshihide and Jaki Liebezeit, amongst others.

Jaap Blonk hails from the Netherlands and is a self-taught composer and poet best known for his improvised vocal performances and sound poetry. Blonk is highly regarded for his pure and uninhibited style of improvisation, his sets often given greater depth by the use of live electronics, and he has collaborated with Maja Ratkje, Mats Gustafsson, Joan La Barbara, The Ex and many others.

Steve Noble first appeared as part of pop group Rip, Rig And Panic before becoming involved for several years with Derek Bailey’s Company Weeks and becoming over the years a key figure in the UK’s improvised and free music community, playing with improvisers of all approaches including Peter Brotzmann, Stephen O’Malley, John Edwards, Ikue Mori and Keiji Haino. 

Wobbly is the nom de plume of Californian plunderphonic artist Jon Leidecker who, like Vicki Bennett, uses found materials and collage as a key part of his working method, so its perhaps inevitable that they have produced several records together. He’s also released a series of records on Important, Illegal Art, Tigerbeat6 and other labels and collaborated with Matmos, Jay Lesser and many others.

Mark Sanders is a drummer and key part of the UK free music scene with an astounding list of collaborators from Derek Bailey to Okkyung Lee, Charles Gayle and William Parker. Mark has performed all over the world and released over 120 cds and also forms a rhythm section with bassist John Edwards in a number of groups.

Tomomi Adachi is from Kazanawa, Japan and is a composer, sound poet and installation artist, improvising live with the use of voice, live electronics and his own instrument designs. Regarded as Japan’s only sound poet, he gave the first ever Japanese performance of Schwitters’ Ursonate and has performed the works of Cage, Cardew, Wolff and others and collaborated with countless artists including Zbigniew Karkowski, Annette Krebs and Akio Suzuki.

Jennifer Walshe is a renowned vocalist and composer with so many strings to her artistic bow its hardly surprising she was so successful with her Grúpat project, where she adopted and developed 9 separate personas, each with their own individual creative outlet. The project led to exhibitions, photography, sculptures and more internationally by each of the personas. She’s perhaps best known as the composer of the opera XXX_Live_Nude_Girls!!! and is also highly regarded as a vocalist and improviser.

This tour is produced by Tusk Music in association with Sound And Music.


TECTONICS - Performers: Skúli Sverrisson, Davíð Þór Jónsson, Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir, Hlynur Aðils.

TECTONICS – Performers: Skúli Sverrisson, Davíð Þór Jónsson, Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir, Hlynur Aðils.


NOTATIONS A6 Flyer – back









 flyer 350x250


Download a zipped file of social media flyers for each concert and the whole tour


Interview with Richard Whitelaw from Sound and Music, October 2013


When performed, the film is provided with a “score” (ie a list of instructions to be translated into sound) which consists of some basic instructions and a synopsis listing characteristics of the 9 different sketches featured in the film.  The sketches are as follows:

The film is made in 9 sketches with titles that roughly describe the content/concept/theme. The themes move and progress with many tangents, although there is continuity of concepts and the pace even and flowing. There is intermittent film sound throughout, and lots of silence. Hopefully the sound will be no more surprising than any other performer on the stage. The maximum audio volume should be set equal to each participant.

There will be no instructions to be found beyond what is in the film, no written score beyond this text. The film will be provided to the players at least 2 weeks before the performance date, and should be viewed several times well before performing. For each sketch different numbers and combinations of performers are recommended, either spontaneously or pre-determined. All players should meet to discuss this before performing, and rehearsals are at the discretion of the performers. 

Ultimately, whatever the film content suggests is what all should react to. – Vicki Bennett, May 2013

1. A Nod to Previous Players.
Majority of footage sourced from old avant-garde and comedy films featuring people playing cards and chess, also doing things at tables. Very little sound added to the film soundtrack.
2. From A-B.
Transport, trains, cars, carriages and things that move fast.  Some typewriting and conducting too.  This one is fast and also noisy in places!
3. Spin.
Lots of spinning, vertigo, circles and targets. Zooming into eyes. Camera shutters. Not too much incidental sound on the film apart from towards the end with a piano.
4. At Home.
Mainly footage shot in domestic environments – pans through people’s rooms, people eating and chopping food, ringing doorbells, broken appliances and acts of domestic destruction. Reel to reel tape recorders and record players. Fairly quiet, some incidental sounds with a few louder bursts at the end when woman finds a monster in her fridge.
5. Several Directions at Once.
Part 1 A conductor conducts traffic lights and traffic. Incidental sound from traffic, but not conductor’s music. Radio dial turns.  Hands waving, pointing and conjuring. Quiet to start with then bursts of sound around the time of the radio dial being turned.
Part 2 Lots of punching, slapping and violence with incidental sound, cut in with a little conducting and hand gestures, bending and stretching. Quite noisy. Ends with car crash and bowing conjuror.
6. Dark.
Hand movements signifying quiet/listening. Record player and film leaders flicker black and white. People in the dark with candles, thunder and lightning, lights on and off. Disconnection of power, suspense and fear. Incidental sound of storm.  People walking on wooden steps in the dark. Radio tuner and typewriters/printing machines. Quiet incidental sound apart from necessary bursts of weather/explosions.
7. Ups and Downs.
Record players, panning through people’s living rooms. Leisure – card playing and knitting. More panning and record playing.  Walking legs/feet through many films. Very quiet. Desert scene, people run down hill making a noise, there follow many scenes from westerns, woman stops train, buzzers pressed, men with bells, all incidental sounds for this section. More walking, people waiting behind doors, quiet, suspense, just footsteps and door handles. Door lock gets shot (very loud) and then follows a lot of scenes of people struggling in train/horse carriages, to the sound of a carriage then train stopping. Ends with car sinking into mud.
8. The Suspense is Killing Me.
Predator/victims leaning over/backing away or trapped. Retaliation, shooting. Walking. Snooker and more predators.  Opening of doors to different scary people, hiding. Child making horrible noise with a pencil on chalkboard. Doors and wall banging intercut with silence and suspense, listening at walls. More doors opening and suspense, hiding and running. Screaming and fear, silhouettes with bright lights. Power cuts, darkness intercut with conductor and man stuck in phone booth. More power cuts and screaming, general misery. Sleeping woman, man walks up the stairs away from her, looks around, she looks up. He walks away.
9. Nothing Happens.
Man walks down wooden stairs to men playing cards at a table. Intercut with other people staring at the screen or each other, no one does anything, they are just looking. Walking around wooden flooring, woman slams door, sits in silence, kicks floor and three people faint. LP rolls across floor, car runs over accordion. Birds fly up and down, mixed with dancing swimmers. Man sits and writes at a table, silently turning blank pages from different movies. Lots of panning over paper and big tables, mainly silent, man screams at faceless man. Lots more staring at one another, suspense, waiting. Nothing happens. Door opens to man in fez, everyone screams. More staring and suspense. Still nothing happens. Gust of wind, Harpo plays flute through window and scares all the ladies. More predators with weapons, people run away, roll credits.

(The 30-minute version of the film excludes parts 7 & 9)

Download a pdf of the score here:

TECTONICS - Performers: Skúli Sverrisson, Davíð Þór Jónsson, Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir, Hlynur Aðils.

TECTONICS, REYKJAVIK – Performers: Skúli Sverrisson, Davíð Þór Jónsson, Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir, Hlynur Aðils.


20 April 2013 (with the working title of Gesture Piece*) Tectonics Festival, Reykjavik, Iceland
Performers: Skúli Sverrisson, Davíð Þór Jónsson, Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir, Hlynur Aðils.
8 June 2013 (with the working title of Gesture Piece*) Tectonics Festival, Tel Aviv
Performers: Alex Drool, Assif Tsahar, Robbie Avenaim, Christoph Heemann, Eyvind Kang and Jessika Kenney.
10 June 2013 (with the working title of Gesture Piece*) Uganda, Jerusalem
Performers: Eyvind Kang, Jessika Kenney, Robbie Avenaim, Christoph Heemann and special guests
November 2013 Tusk/Sound and Music UK tour – Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, London, Bristol
Performers: Bill Orcutt, Rhodri Davies, Mark Sanders, M.C. Schmidt, Wobbly, Jennifer Walshe, Tomomi Adachi, Jaap Blonk, Philip Jeck, Steve Noble

* Please note – Gesture Piece is now a separate project, an online film with 7 artist soundtracks.  We needed to change the name as the project split into two parts.


Excerpt from “NOTATIONS” Live at Tectonics Festival 2013: “From A-B.”

Co-produced with Sound and MusicWEB-logosall3

GESTURE PIECE – a film by Vicki Bennett

GESTURE PIECE (2013) by Vicki Bennett

A film by Vicki Bennett [2013]
Soundtracks by :
Andrew Sharpley [00:06] | Matmos [01:02] | Wobbly [05:08] | Gwilly Edmondez [07:48] | Dave Soldier [09:38] | Jason Willett [11:02] | Ergo Phizmiz [13:23]

More info at

Music For Films radio show on basicfm

Music For Films with People Like Us
5pm-9pm (UK time), Thursday 5th September 2013
Online at

If you missed the show you can download it here afterwards.
Here is the playlist as a pdf.

music for films

Music for Films radio show online Thursday 5th Sept from 5-9pm UK

GESTURE PIECE – a film with a score by 7 artists

A film by Vicki Bennett [2013]
Soundtracks by :
Andrew Sharpley [00:06] | Matmos [01:02] | Wobbly [05:08] | Gwilly Edmondez [07:48] | Dave Soldier [09:38] | Jason Willett [11:02] | Ergo Phizmiz [13:23]

Gwilly Edmondez, Matmos, Ergo Phizmiz, Andrew Sharpley, Dave Soldier, Jason Willett and Wobbly each composed a score for a chapter of GESTURE PIECE, without any knowledge of who else was collaborating on the project or what the rest of the film would look or sound like.

The completed film stitches back together the seven chapters with their individual soundtracks, creating new connections between apparently unrelated film sequences. The result is a fascinating and witty reinterpretation of familiar film footage, with scenes arranged in surprising and often very funny combinations.

The title of “Gesture Piece” is partly self-explanatory – within human communication it is part of our hard circuitry that for instance we use hand gestures to articulate our speech, which is essentially graphically describing/enforcing audio or spoken discourse. Even when spoken language is not present, a whole series of hand and facial gestures are available to us to communicate expressions. By making a film that both contains human gestures (hands, facial, movement) as well as gestures made by natural and mechanical occurrences we are setting up the conditions for a dialogue between the graphical elements on the films and the improvisers, both with the film as well as with each other.

Background info
Gesture Piece @Tyneside Cinema
Review in This Is Tomorrow Magazine
Interview with a-n Magazine
Interview with SyncTank
Interview with Dominic Smith

October 2014 – Other Cinema, San Francisco
October 2013 – Gesture Piece at High Zero Festival, Baltimore

Click on thumbnails to download stills:

Diagram of subjects - created in the development of the film by Vicki Bennett

Diagram of subjects – created in the development of the film by Vicki Bennett

Still from Gesture Piece by Vicki Bennett

Still from Gesture Piece by Vicki Bennett

Gesture Piece has a sister project, Notations – a film created for live performance by selected improvising musicians and artists.  When these two projects began, they shared the same umbrella name of Gesture Piece (the live performance was tested at Tectonics Festival in Reykjavik and Tel Aviv), but as the work developed it felt natural to separate them out into different names as they became two unique and separate entities.


Radio Boredcast is now a 24/7 Radio Stream!


People Like Us have revamped the DO or DIY radio stream, and as of Noon EDT on 3rd April 2013 it is now streaming Radio Boredcast!

Radio Boredcast is a 744-hour online radio project that celebrates all things SLOW.  And fast too, actually.  Crank it up to wind down and enjoy this selection of specially made radio shows by 100 different artists and some WFMU DJs too!

Click and listen to the 24/7 Radio Boredcast stream here.
(Download the little file linked to above – the stream works through iTunes so let your computer launch this application if prompted.  If it doesn’t launch then find the small file that you downloaded and double-click on it)

Those of you who already have the DO or DIY stream bookmarked, it will automatically switch over to the new stream for you.

Matmos: M.C. Schmidt, Drew Daniels

You can also listen to Radio Boredcast shows on demand here.
More on the history of Radio Boredcast here.


Matmos and People Like Us double bill at XOYO, London

Tuesday 19 March 2013
XOYO, 32-37 Cowper Street, Old Street, EC2A 4AW 

£10 | 8pm

People Like Us will play the UK debut of our new live a/v performance “Consequences (One Thing Leads To Another)” in support of our good friends Matmos at London’s XOYO.

Buy tickets now:


Introducing the new People Like Us audiovisual performance:

“Consequences”, has two definitions; it is the result of some previous action, and a game (called Exquisite Corpse by the Surrealists) in which a larger picture/narrative is created by assembling subject matter “blindly” in relation to a small amount of information made visible before it as a continuation point.  As a result, content surprisingly and sometimes magically changes over a short period of time or space, with every part still connected to that which goes before or after it.

This new audiovisual performance by People Like Us places similar but emerging subject matter side by side to construct the narrative, where a story emerges as a sum of the parts that came before it yet digresses on a tangent.  All actions have consequences, and here we see them played out, to wondrous and catastrophic effect!

“The subject of authenticity, the “original” in relation to the “copy” (coming from the word “copia”, meaning multitude and abundance) interest me as an artist working in the field of collage and appropriation.  “Original” has limited connection with “quality” or “engaging”, and (at least in the past 300 years) nothing created as an object or product can be traced 100% to an origin – everything is relative, literally – it has a mother and father.  Much like speed, dimensions, size, the terms are reliant upon the conditions of the person experiencing it, where they are and when, there is NO absolute.  This is reflected when very similar creative works and inventions occur at the same period by people who have no knowledge of each other’s works existence.  In Consequences we reflect that no man is an island, but the island has lots of mirror mazes… in fact some mirrors can be walked through.” — Vicki Bennett

People Like Us “Wonderful” [2012]

Trailer and Excerpt:

Transmediale, Berlin – 31 January 2013
La Casa Encendida, Madrid – 15 March 2013
XOYO, London – 19 March 2013
Tectonics, Reykjavik – 20 April 2013
Colchester Arts Centre – 4 May 2013
Nuits Sonores, Lyon – 8 May 2013
Only Connect Festival, Oslo – 8 June 2013
Lab Festival, Augsburg – 25 & 26 October 2013
Newcastle Star & Shadow – 31 October 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
Sound of Stockholm Festival – 8 November 2013
Manchester Kraak – 14 November 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
Leeds Hyde Park Picture House as part of Leeds International Film Festival – 16 November 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
London Cafe Oto – 29 November 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
Bristol Arnolfini – 30 November 2013 (part of NOTATIONS Tour)
L’Embobineuse, Marseille, France – 15 March 2014
Hamburg Hörbar – 9 May 2014
Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre Here To Go Symposium – 31 May 2014
Baltimore, more info to follow in 2014

Press images:

Consequences at Colchester Arts Centre

Consequences at Colchester Arts Centre

Consequences Live in Madrid

Consequences Live in Madrid

Essay by Drew Daniel

Just What Is It That Makes People Like Us So Different, So Appealing?
Drew Daniel

Just What Is It That Makes People Like Us So Different, So Appealing?
Drew Daniel

From “Beware the Whim Reaper” (1995) to “Abridged Too Far” (2004), Vicki Bennett has a way with execrable puns. Confronted with the task of theorizing about what informs and unites the bewildering multiplicity of her life’s work creating painstaking, hilarious and disturbing assemblages out of sound, language and moving image as People Like Us, the title of hers that catches me by the throat is an oldie but a goodie: “Pompous Circumstance”. Wit’s last minute detour off the golden road to cliché, puns take a piece of shared culture and suddenly tweek it into a personal shape, creating something new by revealing what was already there. Inverting Alexander Pope’s formula for poetry (“what oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed”), puns reveal a latent possibility within the given: what oft was expressed but never, until now, brought to thought. Puns are a kind of “black art” that throws received values into reverse: if good puns are bad, then the worst are the best. Ideally, you should be groaning and laughing at the same time. Fair is foul and foul is fair.

Risking a descent into pompous circumstances indeed, the occasion of this retrospective exhibition reverses Vicki’s direction of flow and prompts us to take her sound and video work seriously, and asks us to try to place her work in the context of an ongoing sea-change in how creativity is understood. Pompously put, the artistic re-use of found material confronts us anew with the enigma of creation. Up-ended by indirection, we can only half-see the artist at work in the capricious decision to smash and grab. Looking at the results when the glue has dried and the files have been rendered, can we do any more than catch the shadow of a hand in mid-flight as it grasps and folds a found form, clicks “Crop”, hits “Save”? Trying to catch up, we might ask some simple questions: why isolate and preserve these fragments? Why this piece, placed exactly here? Why this element and not others? Is this a work of love and preservation for what is disappearing, or an act of mockery at the expense of the found? Are we meant to recall the vanished whole, or to see this isolated quanta of material as newly self supporting?

Faced with mounting evidence of collage’s omnipresence and the increasing banalization of cutting and pasting as components of every form of content-management software, it may hurt more now than ever before to return to the old, awkward question: is this creative?

Yodeling in the valley, the fragment oscillates between emotional pitches. When T. S. Eliot wrote “These fragments I have shored against my ruin,” he figured modernist fragmentation as a melancholic funeral rite, a minor key lament at cultural collapse sung against the headwind of history. The irony is that his flimsy barricade of found fragments of popular songs and overheard conversations and quotations proved surprisingly durable; far from a last gasp, it was a breathtakingly successful demonstration of the energies of a new, combinatorial poetics. Jump-cut from Eliot to Dada. Like the public torture of the corpses of suicides in medieval Europe (designed to purge the village of an evil selfishness through a gratuitously “meaningless” display of cruelty), Dada snippetry started as a hostile surgical intervention into a moribund and self-canceling society. The marginal chancers at the Cabaret Voltaire may have thought that their cut-ups of official rhetoric were the final harrowing of necrotic ideological tissue, but Dada collage inadvertently accomplished a revivifying transfusion into the post-war artistic bloodstream. Avant-garde art practices of mangling and attacking and distorting the detritus of mass culture birthed a portable technique of collage that proved all too adaptable to the posterboard and the advertisement and the radio jingle and the TV spot and the viral web campaign. Such are the ironies of what John Ashbery termed “acceptance culture”; the smothering bosom of official sanction muffles the howl of critique with a pillow of puff pieces. For further evidence, consult the PLU track title: “Cushions can Kill”.

Jump-cut to Richard Hamilton. Post-war fragmentation accelerated the centrifugal separation of the positive and negative powers unleashed by cutting up and reassembling culture into both an atomic optimism and an atomic pessimism. If anything could be harvested, shattered into fragments and then recreated for the sake of new art, then the entire archive (sound, image, word) was a standing reserve waiting to be taken by force. Unfortunately, thanks to the accelerating technology of nuclear warfare, this was also true of our own bodies: we were all going to be split apart and reconfigured against our will, and soon. William S. Burroughs’ nostrum “Cut into the present and the future leaks out” figures both the Pandora’s box of potentiality for recombination initiated by a self-consciously mature cut-up aesthetic and the radioactive fallout of anxiety and fear unleashed by a society which had cut into matter itself at its most basic level. We are still living with the results, as lurid narrative scenarios of the endlessly imminent total war choke present reality with a toxic cloud of futurity. Bennett revisits these fantasized bomb-sites and loops them, literally, in the “fort/da” game she plays with animated renderings of atomic explosions that wallpaper the backgrounds of the tank-faced, bighaired women in her video piece “We Edit Life”. Caught in the headlights of these macabre and hilarious people, with each improbable spit curl and passing facial tic replayed and looped into a digital tableaux vivant, we are embarrassed for them and yet find ourselves withering slightly under their artificially steady maternal gaze. In Bennett’s work, the past isn’t suddenly modernized by digital tools, but seems instead rendered even more saturated with the creepy alterity of its very pastness: the syrupy orchestral swells, campfire sing alongs, and outmoded fashions and forced smiles that she assembles and recombines aren’t so much preserved from the ravages of time as they are powerfully fermented in them.

The ability to cut up and transform found material would seem to constitute the ultimate post-modern runaround from older models of artistic expression as a self-revelation. Trading character and depth for a jigsaw surface, collage can seem like a cheap shot detour from being answerable for the self within the work. And yet there is something weirdly self-exposing about the cumulative results of Bennett’s excursions into the mass media archives; the obsessive return to certain images and sounds across decades of work grants them a weirdly personal quality, the fetishistic investment of a cargo cult of one that recognizes the deity of Rod McKuen and Dolly Parton. If it’s so funny, why does it make us feel so awkward? Bennett’s work registers a hot flush of manic exhilaration in the sheer powertrip of her sure technological command over her source material, but it pills the sugar with a certain lingering aftertaste of despair at the failure of the aspirations within the material she collects. If the surreal humor of her work at its lightest suggests the comic English anarchism of Monty Python or Richard Hamilton, the quotidian grimness of her work at its darkest suggests the mordant English miserabilism of Philip Larkin or Mike Leigh. Far from proposing a utopian or psychedelic “other world” of festivity in which to escape from the drabness of the everyday, 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.

Works Cited
William S. Burroughs & Brion Gysin The Third Mind New York: Viking Press, 1978.
T. S. Eliot “What the Thunder Said” The Waste Land and Other Poems. London: Faber and Faber, 1972.
Alexander Pope “An Essay on Criticism” Collected Poems. London: Tuttle Publishing, 1991.
This essay was commissioned by to coincide with “People Like Us: We Edit Life” – a Retrospective of the work of People Like Us, which ran in the gallery from 16 May-12 July 2008. Documentation can be found on the gallery site and here:

People Like Us, Matmos and Wobbly – Wide Open Spaces

The hour long performance on this disc was captured live on October 5th 2002 when Wobbly, People Like Us and Matmos circled their wagons in the lecture hall of the San Francisco Art Institute. Having mutually agreed upon a country and western theme, Vicki Bennett (PLU), Jon Leidecker (Wobbly), and Drew Daniel and M. C. Schmidt (Matmos) pored over their archives of honky tonk classics, chopping and dicing Nashville’s finest almost beyond recognition, and collectively restitching the mangled shreds in a kind of crazed digital quilting bee. Several tense rehearsals and strong pots of tea later, the foursome shuffled on stage and delivered the goods: from panoramic twangfests to offkilter waltzes to barn burning stompers. Flickering and tranquil one moment, and wildly slapstick the next, Wide Open Spaces hits the sweet spot between song forms and improvisation, and showcases the qualities that all three collaborating artists share: absurdist humor, baroque sample manipulation, and stuttering rhythmic frameworks that lurch and sway. While the presence of five samplers, four laptops, three CD players and a pedal steel guitar on one stage could have led to a tediously ego-driven “jam” or simply cacophany, the results feel lushly detailed but not cluttered, and swing naturally between structure and freedom. It’s an international media magpie summit where country’s chick-a-boom meets tech house’s boom-tschak, and tearjerking sentiment and patriotic hokum are subjected to a dense shower of coughs, sputters and rude noises. Listening back to the recorded results, all three musical units agreed that this concert was mighty fine, and worth sharing.

01. Morning
02. Dolly Pardon
03. Clawing Your Eyes Out Down To Your Throat
04. Shenandoah
05. Holler
06. Tremble Valley Peady
07. Chicken Legs
08. Cattle Call
09. Unshackled
10. Arkansas Explorer
11. Calling
12. I Must Die
13. Wide Open Spaces

Tigerbeat6 website
Mirrored here: