The Roaring Jester   Leave a comment

My pal Taren McCallan-Moore, the artist that did the cover art for Babysitting The Apocalypse, kindly wrote a blog post about Contempt, for which I am very grateful etc.

I first arrived in Cambridge in 1982 and in 1986 I moved to London. Years later, in Cambridge once again during the late Nineties or very early Noughties, I remember a curious sense of familiarity meeting Pete. I reasoned that during those early years I spent in Cambridge we must have crossed paths somewhere at a party or a pub. Perhaps we’d just seen each other marching to and fro along Mill Road. But when did I first hear Pete’s music?

I remember spending time with him filling biodegradable packets of muesli at the Arjuna health foods warehouse where we both worked for a time. One day, after Pete had introduced me to Vicki Bennett’s’, ‘People Like Us’, I went home and found his music online.

As a poet he’s a lyricist scraping nails across the blackboard, hammering his ambiguous oratory upon the asylum’s panopticon and alerting the lunatics within.

Much has been written about Pete Um online and in print, offering the surreal, informed and sometimes mellifluous treatises of analysis that he deserves. He has been a staple of the Cambridge underground for many years and if I were tentatively to offer some musical comparisons, I might mention Ivor Cutler, The Residents, Beck, Captain Beefheart, Harco Pront, Lone Pigeon and Gary Wilson. His performances are unpretentiously eccentric and even brave; there is an ad hoc video of Pete performing ‘Holy Fire’ using a beat box upon Midsummer Common at the end of Cambridge’s annual Strawberry Fair in 2004 – a performance wherein, like Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, the safe distance between himself and the audience almost collapses into brutality. The video for ‘Grow To Her’, from 2012’s, Babysitting The Apocalypse, stands in my humble opinion as one of the most moving declarations of love.

As a sound artist, his use of instrumentation is a technique of disquieting polyrhythm, carved from an assembly of subtractive synthesis, ripped from comfort and expectant staccato into an orchestra pit of seizures.

Artfully mastered, Contempt, has at its core a chaos that generates a glorious order. The form has a smooth analogue curve, seemingly uninterrupted by the minutiae of crude digital stepping; Voltage Controlled Oscillators like wet skin slip on enamel. The human voice lilts as if singing nursery rhyme, shanty, bar song or mantra. Sometimes you’re whispered to; an intimate share in significant furies and cheeky pop tropes, – ‘Yeah man, alright!’ he swaggers satirically on ‘Zen And The Teapot.’ Beat box drum, garage pump, playful and endlessly creative like a child left alone with cutlery, Contempt’s clattering sonar is an elegant present for the trained ear, the lover of indeterminate sync.

Like a wicker man shanty before the pyre, a lament, a shivering prophesy: ‘It’s like life is the biggest of bummers, when you’re caught with both feet in the past. I can see just where I came from, but I don’t have a clue where I’m going. Its the same song sung through the ages, death needs time for what it kills to grow in, death needs time for what it kills to grow in, death needs time for what it kills to grow in.’ – ‘Death Needs Time’.

The tracks are short, economical and absolute, careful and koanic doses without the drip fat of the languorous; a crisp defence against excess.

In ‘The Rebel’, the final track on the album, Pete nods to the film of the same title starring Tony Hancock, an anti-establishment gig about a downtrodden office clerk. Hancock’s daubing, naif autodidact becomes a fraud by accident in Paris when a friend’s artwork, considered better than his, is confused with his own. Taking his leave of the art world Hancock says, ‘I know what I was cut out to do and I should have done it long ago. YOU’RE ALL RAVING MAD!! None of you know what you’re looking at. You wait ’til I’m dead, you’ll see I was right!’ Is this Pete’s morbid and self-deprecating vision of an epitaph?

In 2002, The London School of Pataphysics, recreated Hancock’s fictional works and displayed them in a show called, ‘Anthony Hancock Paintings and Sculptures.’ Pataphysics, as Alfred Jarry explained it, is ‘the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality to their lineaments…’ Unable to escape the tautological bindings of the Spectacle, in that ‘The true is a moment of the false,’ Guy Debord’s description of a ‘victorious and spectacular real as unreal, where nothing is, until it appears within the Spectacle itself, even if in that moment of its appearance it would lose what ever reality it held,’ goes some way towards describing the sonic situation Pete identifies and opposes. In paraphrase of Jarry’s post-metaphysical phenomena, Jean Baudrillard wrote that ‘Pataphysics is a science, albeit one with an aesthetic sensibility; it regards “humour” and “the serious” with the same imperturbable gaze.’ This strategy, I believe, though devised in an attempt to resist omnipotent commodification in the realm of images, is at the heart of Pete’s musical world; a resounding critique of the contemporary sonic Moebius Strip – charged with poignant Pataphysical contempt.

‘Me and you, we do what we do, don’t be a moral slob. We make our lives, with forks and knives, we eat reality raw. Do it yourself. Everybody needs themself.’ – ‘Them Self’.

And there is the spirit of Jarry’s Ubu Roi in Pete’s work, the precursor to the Theatre of The Absurd and Surrealism, the antithesis to the Spectacle with which Pete satirises the complacent Bourgeoisie and the abuses of authority flaunted to engender success. Such piercing critique is an illustrious flame passed from hand to hand by those wise enough to carry it, and assuredly Contempt brandishes that visionary torch.

Pete Ums, Contempt, is available now in digital and limited edition vinyl from Bandcamp. If you’re in Cambridge, you can buy the round plastic version with a hole from Relevant Records.

With thanks to Alex Dougherty.

Posted May 19, 2015 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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Pete Um Soundcloud Dump   1 comment

If I had the time ‘n’ energy I’d write something about how Our Rich is dumping his old shit on Soundcloud and be weirdly fanboyish about it in an irritatingly pretentious way, as though in some way it’s mainly about me. Talking of which, AFX’s example has inspired me to uh… led me to copy it, obviously. Unfortunately, perhaps, no fan (because: no fans) is going to pay for a Pro Unlimited for me so I’ve only been able to take a tiny percentage from the folder called “um_motherlode”. I was going to do it alphabetically but I got hung up on whether I should start with tracks with numerals at the start of the title. In the end I picked songs starting with the letter C, and the 180 minutes limit was only enough for half of them. As it stands “um_motherlode” has 2676 files comprising 63.1GB of data, but it isn’t actually the sum total of all the funny music I’ve done, just because archiving sensibly is a complex pain in the arse. Some stuff never made it off cassettes, some data couldn’t be retrieved from shitty CD-Rs, some music only exists in project files so there is no mixdown, and finally I don’t think I’ve added anything to the motherlode for the last few years, as having one massive folder with all your music is an incredibly daft and impractical way of storing it. Although I will admit to having some remaining (albeit laughably-reduced) ambitions for my music, I still basically make it because I like doing it, and I still like it when I’ve done it, generally. This factor sometimes forms an allegiance with my innate fucking slackness, my addled fuzzy brain, my defining sense of doubt, my fear to succeed, etc etc etc, to engender a pathologically indisciplined way of producing stuff. And I suppose it’s an aesthetic I subscribe to or whatever. So, in contrast to, say, Richard, whose less-inspired and perhaps unfinished tracks uploaded to Soundcloud still benefit hugely from an unmistakable ear for melody and rhythm and a thorough understanding of compostion and arrangement, a substantial amount of my recorded music is either a sketch or a sketch with a bit of work. Equally, a lot of it is the result of many hours of detailed edits, but that’s kind of another story. So, to shoot this convoluted snake of an explanation dead with the pellet gun of lucidity: I have uploaded a load of tracks to Soundcloud, have a look if you like. I will try and make them all downloadable as soon as I get a minute innit. Still some physical product available via Bandcamp.

Posted May 19, 2015 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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03.08.14 – Pete Um, Mad Professor, Algérie, Japon, etc. By MU_radio_campus_bruxelles   Leave a comment

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03.08.14 – Pete Um, Mad Professor, Algérie, Japon, etc. by Mu_Radio_Campus_Bruxelles on Mixcloud

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Posted October 31, 2014 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

Dereckvon Nochexxx Review   Leave a comment

Posted October 31, 2014 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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BSE   Leave a comment

L@@K!

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Posted October 21, 2014 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

Cyland Audio Archive   Leave a comment

Just wanted to big up the…

*turns off very hectic live Weather Report, realizing it’s entirely the perfectly wrong thing to try and compose something about what’s good about CAA*

…uh, dudes at Cyland Audio Archive  for not only for releasing something of mine that I’m almost limitlessly chuffed came into being, but also doing the same-thing-but-differently with loads of other artists in a manner ‘n’ mode that seems almost fiendishly designed to tickle the aesthetic of self-styled weirdo noise-botherers and hep record-Jonesters alike, and I say that like it’s a bad thing!

I dunno, in 2013 I got to have a release described thus:

 Two 7.5″ polycarbonate squares 3mm thickness with lathe cut. Cutted on american vintage lathe from 50s using soviet tube amp. Silk-screened antistatic sleeves with handwriting. Numbered. Playable on any turntable. Monaural.

I mean for a certain type of musician this is a bit like going on Top Of The Pops.

And the press was great too:

CAA-8 PETE UM(UK)
The use of amateurism
and error as a means
of composition characterize
the art of Pete Um.
It is important to understand
that to be able to appreciate
Pete’s work for CAA.
His off-kilter methodology
and stumbling attitude is still
present, but it’s drenched
in an abrasive and tape-hissy
miasma.
Worth it alone
for transmutation.
Here are the most intricate
drones one has ever heard,
analog meditations on life,
anxiety, and death, bringing
an incredible depth
to what could have been
a very flat sound, tape hiss
clear as day with the distant
warbles and close ripples
sounding as if they’re inside
your head, immaculate dreams
filled with soft synths,
galvanic and calming
on so many levels, the silence
is anything but, embedding
the slightest shred
of suddenness into every
next moment, and going full
on lumpy euphoria
in the most restrained way,
a heaven we never knew existed
and never want to leave, this
is masterful in its
strange beauty, a perfect
goddamn record.

So yeah, I know they’re fancy things and Petersburg may seem a distant place and you don’t necessarily have any space in your section for lathe cuts at the moment but check the URL because there’s mountains of great polycarbonate shizzle therein.

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And I was only listening to Weather Report to check the condition yeah? Fine musicians though they are.

Every possible Tuesday on Panik   Leave a comment

298

Very pleased to be included in another relational outburst outta Brussels.

Show #298, 10th December 2013 w/ Selvhenter, Pete Um, Post-Materialists, The Stranger, Daniel Spicer a.o.

Mis en ligne le mercredi 11 décembre 2013 par L’étranger

L’étranger broadcasts every possible Tuesday 21h00 – 22h00 (CET) on Radio Panik 105.4FM. A relational outburst.

Scrambling radio art/art of radio, social imaginary significations, occulture cries & whispers, collective fictional space, fluxional artcore, post-economic music, queer diasporas

Audio of Show #298 is here : OGG (34MB) or mp3 (54MB)

The following were scrambled with tape manipulations of a random pluck from Eland Faxjaran’s shortwave cassette archive :

1. Violet Ferrer V.S. Raglani – Untitled
mp3 from artist’s Soundcloud site, 2012
2. The Stranger – We Are Enemies But Not Here
mp3 from ’Watching Dead Empires In Decay’ digital release (Modern Love, UK) 2013
3. Post-Materialists – No
mp3 from ’Return to Dope Mountain’ net release, 2013
4. Panelak – Theodoroperou
mp3 from ’S/T’ digital release, 2013
5. Gabriel Saloman – Music for Prisons
mp3 from artist’s Bandcamp page, 2012
6. The Capybaras – The Doctor’s on Holiday
from ’Stropicalia’ digital release / CD, 2013
7. Jerry Modjesk & Chuck Isle – Ethereal Honky Tonk
mp3 from ’Another Flask of Weird – Wake Up Weird #2’, 1983
8. Jessica Meor – wwm
from Vimeo video, 2013
9. Samantha Vacation – Ms. Hotel’s Indiscretion
mp3 from artist’s Soundcloud site, 2013
10. Anton Heyboer – Regeneration
from ’Rules Of The Universe’ 2XLP (Kye, USA)
11. Trouble Dove – In The Luminosity
mp3 from ’S/T’ digital release, 2013
12. н.о.ж. – Я достаточно красива
mp3 from artist’s LastFM page, orig. release 1994
13. Disism – DisClean
mp3 from ’Finished Products In The Making’ net release, recorded1993
14. Marta Sainz – Hellas
mp3 from FMA, 2013
15. Гражданской Обороны – Всё пройдёт
from ’Инструкция по выживанию’ CD, orig. release 1990

Lyrics somewhat translated by the Russian coleman : “Lovely night, couple in love / Flowers and lilac, normal things / Ordinary objects of life / They meet two division servicemen / And here she is raped / And he has a torn liver / Chorus : Everything passes, sadness, and joy / Everything passes, that’s the way to the light / Everything passes, just have to believe / That love does not pass, no. / pass, no / Spring in October, talk about peace / strengthen your troops, otherwise certain destruction / Finnish winter, Europe on the assault bayonets / The cold war was the mutual guilt of the giants / CHORUS / A Beautiful face, obscure books / Talk about how we all have every right / A bottle of wine, casual insults / Broken faces of friends, humiliation, bloody foam / CHORUS”

16. Daniel Spicer – Sans Titit
mp3 from ’Classwar Karaoke – 0017 Survey’ digital release, 2012
17. Selvhenter – Bali
from ’Frk. B. Fricka’ LP (Eget Værelse, Denmark) 2012
18. Pete Um – A Different Time
mp3 from ’CAA#8’ digital release / 2×7.5″ Polycarbonate lathe cut (Cyland Audio Archive, Russia) 2012
19. Bing Selfish & The Ideals – Hotline To A Hothead Intro
from ’The Legendary Conway Hall Concert & Other Live Gems’ CD (El Frenzy, Spain) 2005

Posted December 13, 2013 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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