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People Like Freq talk to People Like Us

June 2000

People Like Us is Vicki Bennett, a resident of Brighton on the South coast of England and creator of extraordinarily witty cut-up film and music projects which take the cultural critique of Plunderphonics into new dimensions of layered reference and dissociated signifiers. As with like minded spirits such as Manchester’s Stock, Hausen & Walkman, Californian pioneers Negativland and cod-orchestral Sythetizers The Tape-Beatles, People Like Us recordings use found sounds, old vinyl of dubious value in its original kitsch state, TV snippets and general audio detritus to nag at the edges of what constitutes sampling, copyright avoidance and sometimes music itself. Interviewed by Freq at the time of her stunning Brighton performance in February 2000, sections of the interview were later completed by email.

FREQ: What’s upcoming on the People Like Us front next?

PLU: A CD

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Radio 9 – Motorik EP

Label: Enraptured Format: 10″

Radio 9 - Motorik EPThe title track of Radio 9‘s debut EP does exactly what it says; it’s Motorik as you could want, with the signature metronomic autobahn-riding groove copped from the big NEU! book of Dinger-drumming topped off by a throbbing bassline courtesy of Leon Muraglia and the beguiling synthesizer sweeps and swatches courtesy of Zoe Kemp. Since the former is the head honcho at London’s very swinging Kosmische Club, this Germanic sound connection comes as no surprise at all, but the (inevitable) initial impressions of taking the Harmostereodsseldorflabonia template at stock value is redeemed by the guitar work and the dynamics of the thing. “Motorik” is definitely a catchy little number in the homage stakes, rather than being

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Azúcar Letal – Azúcar Letal

Label: Sub Up Format: CD

Azucar Letal - sleeve detailWell I am supposed to listen to this CD and be amazed at what technology can bring to life in the antiquated traditional sounds of Cuban music today. While the production techniques of Holger Hiller are undoubtedly very masterful, what impresses me most is that they do nothing to water down the sumptuous vocals that obviously take their strengths from a long-earned heridity of impassioned Latino singing. All the sampling and processing does nothing to quieten those lush voices; in fact, it simply becomes part of the music and blends nicely with the superior big brass horn sounds that are the dressings underneath. It seems the purpose is to show a more contemporary side of Cuban music, perhaps where it is today, and to this end the album is subtitled The Next Generation of Afro

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Labradford’s Third Annual Festival Of Drifting

David Pajo; Robin Guthrie; Pole; Labradford Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank Centre, London 24th June 2000

This year’s Festival of Drifting sees each participant playing all in one night as a national tour, as opposed to the previous two years when performances were spread out over the course of 4-6 days at various venues. Labradford‘s idea is to bring together an artist-led festival featuring performers from the softer side of Rock/Ambient/Electronica, and piece them all together between a stich of writers and a thread of visual artistry, developing a tapestry of music, art and literature that all revolve and influence each other in this world of dark and calm atmospheric expressionism. Competing with Glastonbury this weekend, Drifting has attracted an impressive quantity of observers, even if many of them come out a little disappointed.

The first problem presented to festival goers was a schedule issue. The Queen Elizabeth Hall seems

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Four Tet v. Pole – Pole v. Four Tet EP

Label: Leaf Format: 12″

Pole vs. Four Tet - sleeveSoundclash time, as Kieran Hebden and Stefan Betke go tape-head to tape-head in their Four Tet and Pole aspects, each recording a track and letting the other plug away until some kind of remix level is reached. The original tracks are put onto the EP as well, so it’s all making for the split single for the Nineties – scratch that, Twentifirst Century…

Pole’s “Heim”, in unremixed form, is one of his trademark watery, crackly Dub bloomers, wafting bass at almost inaudible levels while that lovely old filter makes everything sound like it’s defrosting at time-lapse speeds, with hints of virtual melodica making the occasional hint at tuneful wheezing. Very relaxing. Hebden makes his version pop more and roll less, instead opting for a slightly nervous (compared to the laid-back original anyway) mix which adds

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Antony & The Johnsons – Antony & The Johnsons

Label: Durtro Format: CD

Antony & The Johnsons - sleeve detailSo the story goes that David Tibet of Current 93 found this act in some seedy New York drag cabaret and was so knocked out that he brought them to his Durtro label and released this CD as soon as possible. Well, it is little wonder that Antony & The Johnsons would cause such a stir. Thematically the most “Goth” music I have come across in years, this highly dramatic work pierces the subconcious with visions of everything black and bleak and toturous and painful disguised in the most beautiful gossamer folliage of clean pure blue light music.

By far the most impressive track is “Cripple and the Starfish” which leaves its indelible and invisible brand in the heart such as that of “Song to the Siren” done by This Mortal Coil or

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S.E.T.I. – Pod

Label: Ash International [R.I.P.] Format: CD

Pod - sleeve detailThis is the third in Andrew Lagowski‘s excursions into the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, and perhaps the most disengaged from the planet of sound. The theme is escape from Earth and oneself – hence the title. Much more Solaris than Apollo 13 in other words, and with nods to both the end sequence of 2001 and thirty years of NASA research and/or cover up along the way too.

The hum of a spaceship interior; squarking astronauts and Houston; the interrupted radio signals; solar flares brushing into audible bandwidths; winds dusting the surface of Mars; imaginary landscapes; real conspiracies; mains ignition; coded transmissions form Earth to the alien motherships; a rapidly jacked-out comms port; post-Ambient signifiers of giant spaceships and otherness; wow and flutter; saucers full of black secret technology; skiffy signifiers, spheres in disharmony; voices

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Slapp Happy/David Thomas & Two Pale Boys (live)

Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank Centre, London 13th June 2000

The South Bank Centre seemed to be all on with their rules of protocol as I watched David Thomas from a tiny vertical glass in the big imposing closed door or the Queen Elizabeth Hall. I was a little late and the steward decided not to send me and the long line of other late-comers in to take seats until a break between songs. Mr.Thomas, (frontman of Pere Ubu) doesn’t bother too much with breaks between songs, so we stood, me in the lucky only view spot, for most of the trio’s set. Eventually we were all loosed on the inside and found seats and got on with enjoying a great lot of humour and bittersweet master performing. David Thomas seems to have just the right hold on the most righteous of Mississippi Valley blues. His voice is big and

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Holger Czukay – La Luna

Label: Tone Casualties Format: CD

La Luna - sleeve As they say on “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, the Can man can! The Can man can! Uh… hold on a second, that”s candy man, isn`t it. Not Can man. Oh bugger. So what can the Can man do? Fucking tons, as it happens. But this is something of a surprise. As is the fact that, as we reach midsummer, every fucker starts releasing albums which are very lunar. Odd, that. Coil have done it, now here`s Holger Czukay with “An electronic night ceremony”.

A Throbbing Gristle-style pulse kicks it all off, and then builds gradually into a really quiet rhythm track with mad little noises coming in and out. A main part of the percussion sounds like someone playing the spoons underwater, and you end up with this kind of menacing ambient malarkey

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Einstürzende Neubauten (live)

The Astoria, London 4th June 2000

Even just standing waiting for Neubauten to arrive on stage for this Twentieth Anniversary tour (!) is something of an enjoyable experience, thanks to the wilfully obtuse nature of some of the instrumentation and sundry kit arrayed on the platform. So ignoring the usual guitars, basses and keyboards (even if it is renamed an EN[soniq] through judicious appliaction of gaffer tape), there’s plenty of machinery, metal and pieces the uses of which will become apparent throught the two and half hour set they play. A large metal sheet – standard equipment, even if FM Einheit is no longer here in muscle-girded solidarity to pound and crash as the powerhouase of the group – likewise the tubular bells made from piping, the large blue plastic tubs and odd strips and sheets of steel. The bass spring is a familiar friend from many years of tightly-coiled

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Oh. – Upper Disker

Label: MDZ Format: LP

Upper Disker - sleeve label detail Here’s a House record with a difference – the tracks are based around a real drummer and bassist. This isn’t to say that Upper Disker should be listened to for the difference, it should be listened to for the music – which is something Oh. do very well. They didn’t give the track “We Rock For You” it’s name for nothing.

The five guys from Germany have created some great Electro drenched with antique analogue synths: Korg Polysix and Moogs as well as samplers of all kinds. Analogue tweaks float on top of a serious rhythm section. As Oh say: the second album is not only a yes to groovy basslines but also a big hello to club and dancefloor. Who am I to argue?

Upper Disker fulfilled my need for House, it fulfilled

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Fennesz – Live At Revolver, Melbourne

Label: Touch Format: CD

Live At Revolver, Melbourne - sleeve detailClocking in at a nadge over quarter of an hour long, Live At Revolver, Melbourne makes up for its shortness with some intensity instead. The whines and drones of clickety-snickety underpinnings meet tones at fifty paces then closing to quarters more uncomfortable. These things should sometimes be kept at arms length, but bringing the sound of what resembles a wardrobe being manhandled into a coal cellar this close to the ears can be enjoyable up to a point.

That point is probably about right at the length presented here. Hypnosis is acheived, interventions made and proposed, the texture of hiss and decay propounded on the bones of rhythm and melody just about gets remembered like a distant cousin. There are guitars resident in the cloacum of rendered acoustic transformation, but they don’t stand a

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