All ideas streamlined into a single flow of creativity. Smiltė.

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Graham Holliday

drawn to… Vertigo KO – Phew

Why not draw while listening to a variety of LPs? It seemed like a simple enough premise, and, in these COVID-times, I thought it’d be a good time-filler, and it was. I decided to start this mini-project with Vertigo KO by Phew (aka Hiromi Moritani). I only discovered Phew’s work in 2019, when I stumbled across the Patience Soup video. I went on to buy Light Sleep and, more recently, Vertigo KO, released in September 2020. Due to COVID, I have yet to open the vinyl copy I ordered (as it’s in a different country), and so I’ve been listening to the digital version these past few months.

LP cover of Vertigo KO by Phew

There’s a feeling you get when you discover a new artist; a new sound, one with a unique way of doing things that you find immediately appealing—even familiar—like a missing piece in an unfinished jigsaw; a piece that fills its own particular space. However, it’s not a feeling I get very often with music or art, it’s something quite special and rare, but when it does show its face, I recognise it instinctively. There are uplifting moments on Vertigo KO, but for the most part, it occupies a bleak future-present; one that is cut-up with odd, analogue electronics and sparse, distinctive vocals. It’s become something of a personal soundtrack to 2020. As Phew said about the LP,

“This album is an unconscious sound sketch… The hidden message of this album is: What a terrible world we live in, but let’s survive.”

blind cover | pens, pencils, highlighter, oyster shell | 10cm x 10cm card | 7 December 2020

The blind drawing above (literally done with eyes closed) is the last one I did in this series. I drew it while listening through to the LP a second time. The idea was to create an imaginary LP cover, but the resulting drawing suggested I develop it into a character (see below). I’m calling him ‘hungry man’.

hungry man | pens, pencils, highlighter, oyster shell | 10cm x 10cm card | 7 December 2020

Below are all the other blind drawings I did. I made a different drawing while listening to each track on Vertigo KO, and I changed pens, pencils, and highlighters each time. I intend to print these onto A4 and develop them, perhaps in a similar way to how I made hungry man.

1. The Very Ears Of Morning
2. The Void
3. Let’s Dance Let’s Go
4. The Very Ears Of Dusk
5. All That Vertigo
6. Midnight Awakening
7. Hearts And Flowers

Below is a set of four hungry men drawings inspired by Vertigo KO.

Finally, here’s a film, made by Lisa Aoki, featuring music from Vertigo KO.

Graham Holliday is an editor, writer and media trainer with twenty years experience working on editorial, educational and digital projects for the BBC and others.