People Like Us / People Like Us & Wobbly / Wobbly

Music for the Fire

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    8
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Two master collagers share a warped sense of humor, in a collaboration that will set your ears, mind, and laughter on fire. Behind its campy ‘50s cover photographs, Music for the Fire hides... sound collages made from even cheesier music and movie samples. Through the course of 17 tracks, People Like Us & Wobbly tell a story -- well, at least there seems to be a narrative arc of the boy-meets-girl type; at the very least, it's about relationships. Each track has its own sound design and key sound sources, with some of the samples recurring elsewhere on the album, tying everything together into a strong, tightly woven concept album. The two artists, both masters in the art of plunderphonics, are plundering their hearts out, fishing for their material in old movie soundtracks (turning the cutest, most harmless scene into something incredibly sleazy -- chances are you will recognize it), ‘80s pop music, and instructional records. On first listen, their rapid-fire changes and insertions sound like a mess, but closer inspection reveals complex rhythms, multiple narrative levels, and the fact that every single utterance of speech or sound seems to have its importance -- it all fits together, like one of those Simpsons episodes where you have to hit the pause button to make out every detail and realize how they are all purposeful. Highlights are aplenty, but the crowning achievement on Music for the Fire is the marvelously limping remix of a Barry White song, where Lionel Richie's "Hello" comes in (along with a scientist) to help Barry deliver his bit of "Bad News" -- it may very well move you to tears, although neither Lionel, Barry, or that scientist ever intended those tears to be tears of laughter.

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