People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz


The Keystone Cut Ups
Illegal Art (IA131)

Front cover image:

When People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz premiered The Keystone Cut Ups at the Berwick Film and Media Art Festival in 2010, it was met with praise and wonder. Invoking a dreamlike atmosphere from the pairing of surrealist avant-garde cinema and silent-era comedy films with the quirky, yet emotionally resonating soundtrack carved out a unique sector of musical entertainment. This project stands tall as a statement against an industry that often flounders in its own creative bankruptcy.

Until now, this experience has only been available to those fortunate enough to see it performed live. But this October, people all over the world can see what all the hype is about for themselves when Illegal Art releases The Keystone Cut Ups on DVD, as well as just the musical portion as a digital download and as a 7' single.

The festival commissioned the project in July of 2010 as an attempt to achieve something that would excite audiences in ways they were never expecting. People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz composed forty-five minutes of music that is simultaneously whimsical and poignant. Once the soundtrack was in place, visuals were assembled around the audio in order to create a stimulating assault on the mind that evokes a sense of the surreal and fantastical.

"This work explores the relationships between early silent-comedy and early avant-garde cinema," said Vicki Bennett, the woman who is People Like Us. "Using the influence of slapstick comedy on the Surrealists as a starting point, the pieces, through video-collage, combined with a musical score, reflect simultaneously upon the histories of two distinct schools of cinema, whilst producing a series of new works informed by both silent comedy and 'art' cinema."

Soundtracks are no stranger to People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz, as they had previously created them for both Hans Richter's Ghosts Before Breakfast and Christian Marclay's Screenplay. But The Keystone Cut Ups turned the creative process on its head by adding visuals to compliment the audio, instead of the other way around.

"We are working very closely with the relationship between sound collage and moving image - examining how these elements interact and communicate to make sense of one another," said Bennett and Phizmiz. "For example, a collage of two video elements can take on another layer of subtle meaning through our process of combining visuals with the homage we pay to historical music cues through our playing. For this release, all audio is rearranged and played entirely on instruments and voice."

This DVD is the culmination of unprecedented creativity married with an unusual sense of the abstract and the wonderful. "We loved making this project," reflected Bennett, "and will be so happy to see this as an artifact that can be enjoyed by others anywhere in the world."





"... a freeform, unfolding imaginary landscape that is liberally peppered with slapstick." - Phil England, The Wire

"Beautiful, compelling, funny, crazy stuff" - Matt Groening

"Genuinely astonishing" - Boomkat

"Hilarious, but also fascinating...audacious, kaleidoscopic pop assemblages" - Brainwashed

"Like my favourite pieces of Art, it fuelled my imagination as I got lost in both the images and often fantastical music on stage. When it ended, I felt like I had been rudely awakened from one of those cool, euphoric dreams we sometimes have: disappointed to be woken up so soon." - Observealot