THE WIRE 40: An Evening with People Like Us @The Cube Microplex (01/07)
Perhaps better known for her audio work, the opening night of The Wire’s 40th birthday celebrations focused on Vicki Bennett’s (aka People Like Us) films.
The evening started with an overview of the artist’s work including maximalist explosions of old industrial documentaries, tongue in cheek pop culture mashups, and recent immersive experiences. For me the extracts of longer works didn’t work so well, never having enough time to fully get into what was going on, but many of the short films were brilliant – from the hilarious mashup of The Hills Are Alive from Sound of Music and This Is The End from Apocalypse Now (The Sound of the End of Music), to the really quite moving combination of depictions of the moon in early experimental and comedy films, with music by Ergo Phizmiz (Moon). What was surprising and delightful was the lack of any cynicism – throughout, Bennett celebrated films from commercials to classics, with an obvious love of the moving image, and the people who made them.
The night really started to come alive with the Q&A with Bennett. The way she talked about her work confirmed her genuine joy in working with existing material. ‘Films want to be friends,’ she replied to questions about how she got things to fit so well together. ‘You do one thing for a long time and magic happens.’
Crowning the evening was a new work, with live performance by Bennett, Ergo Phizmiz and Gwilly Edmondez. It fulfilled the promise teased in the earlier clips, and showed the excellence of Bennett’s work when allowed the space to stretch out, by turns joyous and strange and beguiling. It seemed almost like a celebration of her own career, with clips returning to repeated motifs from earlier work; corridors and cameras, doorways and dreams. As a final encapsulation of the magic Bennett talked of we saw a satanic ritual mixed with a Dadaist poetry exercise; art as a demonic summoning, drawing something from the ether and binding it to yourself.
For this evening Bennett has put together a programme of her rarely-seen short films from the current century. The films will be followed by a discussion between the artist and Wire Deputy Editor Emily Bick, and then the premiere live performance to a new specially-made film score by PLU by the trio of Bennett, Gwilly Edmondez and Ergo Phizmiz.
Emily Bick is Deputy Editor at The Wire magazine.
Gwilly Edmondez is a performer whose primary aesthetic is Wild Pop, active both solo and in numerous collaborations. As Gustav Thomas he is one half of the duo YEAH YOU with Elvin Brandhi. Originally from Wales, he is mostly based in the North East where he has been on the staff of the music department of Newcastle University since 2004.
Ergo Phizmiz is a composer, writer, collagist, radio playwright, opera designer and director, who has created a vast body of work across media since 2000. They are currently designing moving images for The Rake’s Progress at the Royal Academy of Music, and working on the opera Adapting Don Quixote as a PhD at the University of Bristol.
The Wire 40 @ The Cube is a weekend of events marking The Wire magazine’s 40th anniversary. Other Wire 40 events are happening in London, Brighton, Manchester, Glasgow and streaming online during the month of July. See The Wire for more details.
PEOPLE LIKE US PRESENT an evening of film: CONCERT OF COLLAGE : CITATION CITY
and selected short collage/cut up films curated by Vicki Bennett at WATERSHED CINEMA 3, BRISTOL
18 September 2015 21:45 – 23:45 £5 / £4.50 CONC.
Join us for the performance of Citation City – a time-travelling voyage through one city, assembled from hundreds of movie clips and inspired by the wanderings of Walter Benjamin.
People Like Us’ ‘Citation City’ sources, collage and edits 300 major feature films where content is either filmed or set in London – creating a story within a story, of the film world, living its life, through extraordinary times of change, to see what happens when these multiple narratives are combined… what will the story tell us that one story alone could never tell?
NOTATIONS – the film by Vicki Bennett (People Like Us) created for live performance by improvising artists and musicians, toured 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 Orcutt, Rhodri Davies, M.C. Schmidt (Matmos), Philip Jeck, Jaap Blonk, Steve Noble, Wobbly, Mark Sanders, Tomomi Adachi and Jennifer Walshe.
Oct 31 – NEWCASTLE BILL ORCUTT / RHODRI DAVIES / MARK SANDERS + BILL ORCUTT SOLO SET
& PEOPLE LIKE US “CONSEQUENCES (ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER)” Star & Shadow Cinema, Stepney Bank, NE1 2NP
8pm £8/10 starandshadow.org.uk =============== Nov 14 – MANCHESTER M.C. SCHMIDT / WOBBLY / JENNIFER WALSHE & PEOPLE LIKE US “CONSEQUENCES (ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER)” Kraak, 11 Stevenson Square, M1 1DB
7.30pm £8/7 kraak.co/home =============== Nov 16 – LEEDS (as part of Leeds International Film Festival) M.C. SCHMIDT / WOBBLY / TOMOMI ADACHI & PEOPLE LIKE US “CONSEQUENCES (ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER)” Hyde Park Picture House, Brudenell Road, LS6 1JD
9pm £8/£6 leedsfilm.com =============== Nov 29 – LONDON JAAP BLONK / PHILIP JECK & PEOPLE LIKE US “CONSEQUENCES (ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER)” Cafe Oto, 18-22 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL
8pm £8/10 cafeoto.co.uk =============== Nov 30 – BRISTOL JAAP BLONK / PHILIP JECK / STEVE NOBLE & PEOPLE LIKE US “CONSEQUENCES (ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER)” Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA
7.30pm £8/6 arnolfini.org.uk
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!
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. palilalia.com
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. rhodridavies.com
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. vague-terrain.com
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. philipjeck.com
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. jaapblonk.com
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. efi.group.shef.ac.uk/musician/mnoble.html
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. detritus.net/wobbly
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. marksanders.me.uk
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. adachitomomi.com/n/biography.html
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. cmc.ie/composers/composer.cfm?composerID=114
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)
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 2013Tusk/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.