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People Like Us + Kenny G 

Nothing Special

Wednesday, Jan 7 2004
"The best-selling instrumentalist in the world, with over 70 million albums sold to date, Kenny G is an international superstar who has earned countless prestigious awards throughout an illustrious career that spans three decades. Now add one more to the list of multi-platinum chart topping records: Nothing Special." So fibs the press release for the latest album by People Like Us, the solo project of Vicki Bennett, who as PLU has recorded several albums of found-sound collage and has worked with the likes of Negativland and Matmos. In actuality, the Kenny G performing on this record is Bennett's collaborator, Kenneth Goldsmith, host of the experimental music broadcast Anal Magic on New Jersey's WFMU. And instead of giving you elegant Muzak, Nothing Special invites you to notice that human civilization is mindless and tacky.

If you've been waiting for an album that combines '70s lite rock with glurpy digestive sounds, intense screaming, and coital gasping, then the long wait is over. On Nothing Special, PLU samples and chops up pop media and daily conversation and presents them as a kind of bodily involuntary response; the music is "culture" manufactured as automatically as breathing or the human body crafting a turd. On the song "Close to Me," the Carpenters have been diced: "Just like me, they long to be/ Just like me." During a pause in the rearranging of Richard and Karen, the narrator of a books-on-tape version of the Bible announces, "On the third day after his crucifixion Jesus rose from the dead," a recitation that is followed by a snippet of upbeat samba. The album's final track reconfigures some political jargon into odd poetry: "United Nations slow as molasses, United Nations no kick asses."

While the real Kenny G's music is best enjoyed in the background, the difficult listening of Nothing Special is annoying unless you give it some attention, focusing on the meaning behind the album's fractured chaos. It probably won't wind up in as heavy rotation as the other CDs in your collection of smooth jazz, but the occasions when you do listen to Nothing Special should prove memorable.

About The Author

Ben Bush


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