People Like Us – Beware the Whim Reaper

3 out of 5

Label: Staalplaat

Produced by: Vicki Bennett (?)

Definitely one of the more accessible PLU albums, in which Vicki Bennett’s mixology of samples is often kept to one theme per track, with perhaps the more experimental / potentially obnoxious stuff – scatalogical humor, endless looping layered over endless looping – tuned pretty far down. This means we get an idea of what noise collages can sound like, but you can also more legitimately call most of Beware the Whim Reaper’s tracks music, and pretty catchy music at that, with funky and playful beats and sustained melodies consistent through its first half or so. It can work a couple of ways, since it’s not too disruptive: turn it up, and you’ve got something to bop to; turn it down, and it’s pleasant background chatter.

At about that midway mark, though, Beware shifts gears: the title track has a harder, electric sound, pretty far afield from most of PLU in general, and then the recording takes a sharp turn into atmospherics thereafter. On the back of the bouncier stuff, this can feel like something of a drag; a test of patience. Taken on their own terms, these tracks are interesting, and would play well on an album more geared toward that style, but it makes for a strange shift in sequence. Even the humorous samples – some prattle about wine – are set to rather ominous soundscapes. It’s a strange juxtaposition, intra-track and overall.

Closer Ski Heil is a half-hearted attempt to bring some cheer back in, but if you circle back around to the way the disc started, it’s still quite a drastic difference.

Still, even these tracks do qualify moreso as “traditional” experimental music than hardcore PLU mixing / sampling might, making the disc more palatable to a casual listener.