Artist: Split Album / Collaboration
Title: People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz - Withers in the Waking 7"
Genre: Folk Pop / Experimental / Electroacoustic
01 In the Waking (Forest Embers Mix)
02 Withers in the Whist (Wandering Embers Mix)
Touch Records is widely recognized as perhaps being one of the most eclectic and innovative independent labels of its time. Time and time again they've showcased the most intriguing acts from the world of experimental, industrial, ambient, and electroacoustic music. From Nocturnal Emissiosn and Daniel Menche to KK Null, Oren Ambarchi, Fennesz, and the brilliant madman in Z'EV, the label continues to impress with every release. But it is perhaps the lesser known acts that they showcase that end up being the most overwhelming and, indeed, surprising. With “Withers in the Waking” we see the eighth 7” release from Touch's “Touch Seven” series, a unique undertaking that has been preluded by the likes of the aforementioned Oren Ambarchi, as well as Jim O'Rourke, Chris Watson, and others. Touch Records describes their Touch Seven series as being reflected upon the following: “7" vinyl was the quintessential format for popular music. Today, it is an undervalued and mostly promotional medium, used as a fetishistic signpost to a time of musical authenticity and a "healthy" popular culture.” It is indeed true that 7” vinyl was once the quintessential format for popular music, but one can't really say that its truly undervalued. Perhaps in the mainstream the vinyl 'recharge' as it were hasn't seen quite the uprising as it has in the underground, but surely, at least in our realm, the 7” is still very much alive and appreciated. To be fair though, that is only half their argument. You can see the full extent of what they think here.
This series of vinyl 7”s are a literal middle finger in the face of the digital age. Granted Touch Records has long been a label embracing it, first with their “Touch Radio” series in 2005 and last year when Touch's archive became available for digital download, a series like this can mean a lot for the few still clinging to the fact that the physical packaging of an album is just as important as the music, and the truth is that this has been one of the biggest arguments as to why Touch is a 'special' label. Their packaging and artwork has long stood above the rest and to this day still retains a kind of nearly ritual flawlessness. Its blatantly clear that releases aren't simply music or money to this label. This is artwork in the highest degree, every clank of a loop, ever crease in the sleeve. This, however, is not a critique of Touch Records as an entity, but rather the expert collaborative effort “Withers in the Waking”.
This eighth undertaking is a collaboration between two artists who are no strangers to one another, People like Us and Ergo Phizmiz, the former of which has about eleven more years experience than the latter. The lines are somewhat blurred to just what these two share that keep them coming back to one another to collaborate, but the feeling is that their relationship seems more personal than their separate biographies allude to. What we have with this beautiful yet unique 7” is a cultural oddity of folk pop sung over top of found sounds and electroacoustic soundscapes. In the Waking (Forest Embers Mix) is a strange and percussive waltz into the layers of all-to-happy rhythms paired with xylophone solo and a well-performed harmonious vocal duet. A descriptive tale of what seems like the beauty that follows in the aftermath of a burnt-down forest. In this sense the track comes off as somewhat mentally unstable, insane in a way. Its just strange that such an uplifting track should have such a strange lyrical value, though its not always easy to tell exactly what they're saying. Whithers in the Whist (Wandering Embers Mix) follows much the same appeal of pop folk overtop of electroacoustic music though this time the found sounds are much more obvious than the previous tracks, being comprised mostly of separate sounds rather than music itself. This one's definitely interesting and I wish I could hear the vocals better as it seems to follow the life of a butcher, perhaps standing on his head? Trembling and falling on his ass? The lyrics make no sense! But they're oh so hilarious and quite fun regardless.
Its difficult to really have a strong-fit opinion on this release. With something this strange you never know where the serious perspective should lie, if there is one at all. However, Touch Records' fans already know exactly what they're in for and what they're getting into. Any fan of experimental electronic music who can get into the fun side of vocal melodies should really enjoy this one.