People Like Us & Wobbly – Music for the Fire

January 01, 1970

(Illegal Art)


Despite intense collagist PLU/aka Vicki Bennett’s stated narrative
(“A plunderphonic concept album depicting the lifespan of a relationship”), something(s)
more expansively sinister are giving me the heebie-jeebies – interesting, as
that’s how I experience many PLU videos. (About Wobbly, I’ve been learning
enough to detect him in MFTF‘s more melodic
ambient and sampled passages.)


Hail, hail, the Subgenius gang’s all here! Pyramid-schemers,
new age “healers,” pick-up artists, misguided drunks, and pedophiles waltz
around a restless jukebox catering the delusional ambiences for all of the
above. America’s underside was never better represented than on this mash of
alienated, peripheral and aggressive voices persistently at cross-purposes. Objectification
is a recurring subtext: Does the pride and/or enjoyment of the swami or rapist
justify the misery and/or confusion of his or her victim? And there’s the primal
neediness that’s given up on anything like synchronicity – in “Okay,” a
querulous voice snaps, “I’m not asking you to agree with me.”


“Pick Up” intersperses the thoughts bubbles of two mismatched
singles with Julie London, Norman Vincent Peale, and the sort of late
‘50s/early ‘60s daytime television ending with a slightly melancholy orchestral
fillip. That’s a bit of brilliance: while banal, just such “romantic”
impressions are likely to have lodged in the brains of those populating chain hotel
bars in the ‘70s. Does the desperate female cruiser who asks, “What about MY
feelings?” get sodomized? Is the protagonist who keeps muttering about his
secrets or who says, “Just over the line… a bit” the one who rapes the “naked
little girl” or the two brothers who “because of that lust,” and “through
patricide” … “became lovers”?


As with Todd Solondz’s Happiness,
listeners will likely huddle into one of several camps: “This is brilliant and
rather amusing,” or “This is unsettling and disturbing!” The less analytically
inclined may just shrug, “This is odd – what’s the point?” I’m in the fourth
group, somewhat ambivalently doling props to PLU/Wobbly for a squirm-inducing
mining of what Jung called “the shadow self.”


Standout Tracks: “Partners,”
“Naked Little Girl,” “Woman,” “Goodbye” MARY LEARY


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