Archive for September 2004

the artist's sink/Little & Light/Slippy the Dream Dog   Leave a comment

I first developed the concept of the artist’s sink after seeing some skanky, paint-filled sink round some artist’s studio, and being impressionable, it struck me that this was what artists’ sinks ought to look like. It followed on that if I was an artist, which I thought I might be, then my sink ought to be a scum-filled utility apparatus too. I don’t paint, generally speaking, but I thought that at the very least I ought not to ever clean my sink again. Recently, which is several years later, I realized that water has been leaking from my artist’s sink onto the large pile of dirty washing underneath the sink, and onto the carpet and the bare concrete below it. Because it took me some while to realize this, and to arrange to get a plumber out, there has been quite extensive damage to one corner of my room involving mould and filth and general grimness. It is manky and minging, and it smells awful. However, I have had a brand new shiny sink from Armitage Shanks installed and I’ll probably give it a scrub now and again. Artist’s sink indeed.

A few weeks ago my mother-in-law made the gift of a pair of goldfish to my young son, who was chuffed to bits (because he’s into living things at the moment). I was less chuffed, because I don’t believe in goldfish. Well, I believe in their physical reality, in so much as we can ever be totally sure about anything, but I don’t think they ought to be kept as pets. I take this view from my late friend Sean, who reckoned that whereas things like dogs have been domesticated over thousands of years, fish ought to live in rivers or the sea. He may have been influenced by the Coppola film Rumblefish, which is a fucking great film. It’s got Tom Waits in it and has a score by Stewart Copeland, so, y’know. Anyway we don’t have the space for anything like a decent size tank, because Sam’s tiny pink flat is crammed with crap already. A while ago we were talking about getting a cat, but we decided that we didn’t have the room to swing it. So, Little and Light, as Syd dubs his new goldfish, have to sit on the windowsill next to the sink, swimming forlornly around their tiny space like a pair of metaphors. For about a week anyway, which is how long it takes Light to decide to pop his clogs and float to the surface. For some reason this strikes me as the saddest event in the universe, but Syd, bar a bit of wandering round the flat going “poor little feller” in doleful tones, essentially remains largely emotionally intact, thank fuck. One day, when I’m rich, or maybe when we get a council flat, I’m going to get Syd a bloody great dog. We’re going to call him Slippy.

Still some copies of the Um 7″ available…

Posted September 22, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

SPAM…   Leave a comment


This is the sort of crap I get sent:

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And these are the sort of folks that are supposed to have sent it to me:

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My brother arrives from Australia. For the next few weeks I will as drunk as a monkey, so I may not be in the office.

Posted September 12, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

It's raining twats: Frogstock Part 2   Leave a comment

So yeah, Simon and I are there playing the wrong records way into the night, and I start to wonder whether we’re just prolonging the organisational responsibility nightmare for Frog and the boys, who presumably wouldn’t mind a bit of kip when everyone’s fucked off off their land. Turns out I’m wrong because the Frogmeister himself turns up soon enough, pissed off his complete nut (and he appeared to be one of those people whose latent poshness is exacerbated by alcohol, because he was ever so terribly polite) and he actually wants us to keep playing to keep his punters happy, drum ‘n’ bass or no drum ‘n’ bass. Charmlessly, we refuse, because we’re all horrendously old cunts and we have to look after kiddies in the hideous morning, so we mosey back to our tents for some shuteye. That’s the plan anyway.
Unfortunately whilst I’ve been out seeking people’s attention some foolhead has stumbled into my tent, or rather Sam’s brand new £100 tent, shearing off one of the poles, which has in turn gone through the canvas or nylon or whatever it is, and the tent is now lying flat and wet with dew. Wearily I seek out Frog’s brother (I think that’s what he is) and manage to get some gaffer tape off him, as almost 30% of emergencies in the world of rock and roll can be solved with the use of this marvellous stuff. Sure enough, with the help of the magic gaffer, a small wet branch, and DJ Dolomite, the tent is more or less re-erected. It’s still completely fucked, but I might just be able to sleep in it. At this point it seems only appropriate to sit down and have a spliff, so that’s what we do. Then, while we are sat there chatting in front of our tents someone manages to stumble into the rear of mine, luckily not damaging it further in the process. However, it is now as abundantly clear to us as my tent is completely invisible to anyone else that my tent is now completely invisible. Basically it is one of those low-slung one-man affairs designed to reduce wind resistance and increase the sense that one is some rugged survivalist on the roof of the world somewhere, rather than a neurotic artist in a wealthy man’s garden. In addition to this it is dark purple in colour, in marked contrast to Simon and Donna’s silver XFM music biz freebie (I’m guessing), which is right next to it, possibly distracting the pissed-up teenage eye for just long enough to …whoops! We’re also under a tree, which makes the immediate vicinity extra dark. When the spliff-smoking is done and dusted, and as I crawl into my beleaguered sleeping-quarters, it occurs to me that I might do myself a favour by leaving my torch on, just in case the unthinkable happens and some spazzock blunders, y’know, into my tent. No sooner had this unthinkable thought been thunk, than Donna suggests the same exact plan of action. We then joke about how wouldn’t-it-be-terribly-funny if some cock-monkey fell on me in the night, only to enquire, as I struggled to draw breath, if I had any drum ‘n’ bass. Then we bed down for the night, and, ever so quickly, I crash out.
The next thing I know some fucking idiot has fallen on me, and then scarpered off quickly and silently into the darkness, probably slightly alarmed to be addressed as: “You…fucking… idiot!” They’d managed to land on my clenched fist, which was resting against my chest, and my thumb knuckle had been jammed hard against one of my ribs. It was pretty painful, almost as though I’d cracked a rib or something. From then on I managed only fitful sleep, as lying on the cold ground with chest injuries can be uncomfortable, and plus some other idiot (same idiot being really idiotic?) not only crashed into my tent yet again, but also took the time and the trouble, once I’d raised my confused head aloft to try and actively repel boarders, to reach down with their hand and feel the shape of my skull. “Oi!” I cried, in exasperation, but they didn’t seem to feel the need to explain themselves, or apologise.
Thereafter I lay awake listening to people a lot younger than I am having a lot more fun than I was. It’s not as though I expected teenage Norfolk to pipe down just because I was lying there with a chest injury, but you’d have thought that the youth of today would have a better way of pissing me off than playing Take That’s Back For Good on an acoustic, with feeling. Well, maybe not.
Eventually it got light, and although I felt like the living shit of death, I couldn’t take any more of the feeling that I was about to have the sky fall on my head (for it did appear that drunken teens were somehow evaporating and then condensing just above me all night), and I crawled out gingerly onto the wet grass. At this point I saw that someone had sprayed BBQ sauce (presumably half-inched from Pete’s Munchies) all over my tent. I have to admit that this did seem a bit much. In fact I wanted to leave the site immediately, because my eyes were all stuck together and I could tell that my face must have looked a greasy piece of veal, and I didn’t want to think about what would happen in terms of my expression if some kid yelled “Um!” at me and did a thumbs-up. I also had to get a large and heavy amount of records and general audio-visual equipment, plus sleeping bags and carrymats and totally fucked tents covered in BBQ sauce (I did think about leaving the fucker there) to get from Blo Norton to Thetford and I didn’t have any transport. Luckily, one of The Gimps, after one of Simon’s horrendously mind-scrambling herbal wake ‘n’ bakes, which made me paranoid just by looking at other people smoking it, was up for giving me a lift. I would have been grateful but I was feeling like a dog who’d been kicked too much, the word was that Gimps Matey drove like a maniac, and I’m the worst passenger in the world because I have a phobia about death. Fortunately Driver Gimp was excessively done-in by the grass and drove in the manner of my father, which was conservatively. They were also tremendously likeable and amusing people, and very similar to one another in a soft-spoken-London-geezer-ain’t-life-funny-innit sort of way, which made them seem even funnier. A protracted discussion about what tape to play, in which Female Friend Of The Gimps drew attention several times to her powers of veto where the Byrds option was concerned, and a challenging Fall Live tape was deemed unsuitable in the circumstances, eventually managed to make me smile, even if I remained entirely silent on the matter, and indeed throughout the journey. It didn’t matter though, because they knew what they were on about. I was still pleased to be dropped off in Thetford, however, even if there wasn’t another train for an hour and forty minutes.

And that’s about it really, apart from the next day I went to A&E and, after asking me whether it was more painful during inspiration etc they said I’d probably cracked the rib (they can’t tell by X-ray because cracks don’t show up) and it would take six weeks to heal. At this point my life kind of fell apart a bit because Sam really needed her tent to be able to work at festivals etc, and I really needed to be fit and well to look after Syd solo-style because, like Norfolk teenagers, he tends to jump on me a lot. I was also meant to be going on a short family holiday in Cornwall, which necessarily entailed a lot of hiking and smoking and drinking etc. I was also looking at quite a bit more tent action whilst visiting Sam at various festivals and blah and I was skint because I couldn’t lift vegetables and therefore couldn’t buy replacement tents and blah and blah and blah, etc.

Posted September 7, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

Review: Um, "The Old Album", "The New Album", "Giraffe". By Lone Stromblone   Leave a comment

I realize that people might be waiting to hear about my cracked rib, but I haven’t had a chance to finish writing up that episode just yet. In the meantime I thought I’d post this review of the collected recent works of Um by Lone Stromblone. I realize that in this case that’s a bit like getting someone else to blow your own trumpet, but you have to remember that Um reviews are pretty thin on the ground.

Review: Um, “The Old Album”, “The New Album”, “Giraffe”.

Feeling a bit mad? Why not push your luck and optimise the state with some “UM” therapy? Treat your self to the black hilarity of this festival of intrepid linguistrobatics and exploratory solitude. One day, you’ll be out on a flimsy limb. After all, in the end, we are all alone.

Best prepare. Let Um take you there.

Strategy 1. “The Old Album”.
Not desperately old at all, (no date supplied in the sleeve notes, but suspected to have been created in 2002) this collection remains, to my ears, ever as fresh as a daisy-fed spring chicken. Comprising twenty-six works and no space fillers, deftly straddling the gulf between high art and low doggerel, “The Old Album” proffers a wealth of compelling and original lyrical content and poetry. Encircling the lost and subtle concerns of a life spent in too much thinking, the vocal element is set to noises which one can only describe as music, while knowing this biscuit-tin terminology to give cruel short shrift to the nature of the sweetmeats therein contained. The works of “Um” will touch the heart, soul and moist, dark, private corners of anybody who has been all the way out there and plans never to return (should they find themselves fortunate enough to have retained a modicum of volition).

Sonically singular, audibly angular, Pete Um and his associates meticulously dismember and reduce the status quo into “Status: Question”, leaving no turn unstoned. Drawing on an apparently endless variety of voices, Um’s choice of subject matter has a limitless span.

“Pathological Abstention” opens with a philosophical monologue in a Dickensian style, whether originally the product of Dickens, Um or of some other source, I cannot say. The skilled, thespian delivery of this Crowleyan imperative relates to the facing of fear, and to the importance of following one’s own path. It reveals a further taught string to Um’s bow, and a further demonstration of the philosophy of the way of Um:

“…..Only a little extra effort is required of you,
And you can travel again, soon,
This time under your own flag,
And all the better to stick your dread animal in the eye,
And to come full circle,
And understand the meaning in the pattern of the footsteps.”

The backing music to these works stands largely at the front, and comprises a rich feast of the unexpected and peculiar. Layer upon layer of interspersed sonic bites of the world, the mechanical, the bestial and the interminable take turns to leap to stage-front, each adorned with eclectic companions, each group elbowing it’s predecessor into the wings. The lyrics cascade, prolific and pregnant, pungent and palpitating. The result, rhythmic yet frantic, bassy yet jangling and fractious, evokes exposure to a storm of bomb-shattered chandeliers while floundering to break to the surface in an ocean of tepid porridge, laced with Tabasco and scotch bonnet peppers. Tasty, exhilarating and very,
very odd.

Generous with treats and of surprises, “The Old Album” leaves one no longer able to acknowledge former concepts of satisfaction. New needs have been born, goalposts have moved. The record and CD purchases of decades find themselves carted to multi-storey car parks and playing fields on Sunday mornings, for humane destruction via car boot sales, their contents no longer pertinent in this brave new world of blissful uncertainty.

Strategy 2. “The New Album”.
With no consideration for conventions of a musical, social or any other variety, Um forges on into further dark corners of the human psyche. Many undiscovered clefts await the disruptive illumination of this Promethean mischief maker, a true Lucifer, a bringer of light into the musical pantheon. Western humanity, should it be blessed to peek behind the veil of Um-ness, may lose all will to continue in the unthinking consumption and acquisition of prestige kitchens, cars and canned convenience comestibles.

I don’t know what the Cambridge Borough Council adds to it’s local water supply, but Pete Um has drunk his fill, and gone back for seconds, to return puddinged out, to “normal life”, wearing multicoloured fly’s eye spectacles, controversial, contraventional, contrapuntal, and deep as fuck.

The sounds and substance in these pieces have been drawn from sources often left wisely undisturbed, for fear of the legs, wings and mandibles threatening to lash out, to ensnare, usurp and corrupt reason itself. These recordings manage to appear, at times deceptively sweet and homely, suddenly flipping into the utterly, gigglingly, insane or paranoid, threatening the very foundations of reason, logic and stability. I rather doubt that Cliff Richard would approve, let alone Anne Widdecombe (together they’d surely make a lovely couple, some very scary noises, and a fearsome offspring).

This second CD contains twenty-five pieces, all equally ground breaking as those of its predecessor. The breadth of subject matter has expanded yet further, and the range of approaches to delivering Um’s infernal anti-doctrine has broadened in proportion. Everything else is deliciously out of proportion. If you have yet to expand your mind, I am confident that Um can assist you considerably in this quest. In the words of some other committed space explorer “When a man goes to the moon and back and can say that it didn’t affect his life, well…..he must have been looking the other way”. Stand by to repel all boredom. Fuzzy redheads will never appear the same to you again.


Strategy 3. “Giraffe”.
Pete Um’s latest offering was eagerly awaited, and once received, reached all the parts missed or scorned by the other two albums. This time we are treated to no less than thirty-two phyla of this rare genus. Many Giraffe-related etymological and biological questions, toward which my limited private library failed even to lean, have been answered for me by the sleeve notes. We could all learn a lot from the Giraffe.

Each track is enigmatically subtitled, with the sleeve notes offering some interpretation. Many mysteries remain, teasing the brain with modes of possible meaning. Tense and frantic, Um spins out lyrics in a quasi-familiar language, twisted and morphed via a hall of wavy, fractured mirrors, “I sit in a furnace, abusing my buggins, scaring myself, with the power of the biro”, from “Too Old For Sports (ginners)”, and from “A Last Blast (snarp)”, the linguistic impishness continues with “Let’s quit Sodom……(or perhaps “Lets quit, sod ’em”?)..we’ll go tomorrah”. This linguistic fecundity, coupled with Pete’s dry, straight-faced delivery, yields gems like “You may take your time like the cow you are, but you make sweet milk with your guitar.” from “Ghost (mutter)”.

May those who consider themselves sane be compelled to look long and hard into the abyss of their sham comforts and curios. May they gasp in horror as they glimpse the insubstantial nature of their worldly props. All that went before is now unworthy of it’s having gone-ness (excluding “The New” and “The Old” albums, naturally).

“Giraffe”, predictable only in it’s family resemblance to the unmistakable style of the previous collections, supports my opinion that Pete can write a highly entertaining lyric about anything, and can hang anything he produces, securely, onto a sonic backdrop which supports, lifts and separates, and crosses the heart and mind of t
he listener in all directions.

His unparalleled and ruthless play-tech style continues to hound the wibbly-wobbly world of the Blair establishment, confounds the inherited wisdom of musical production and not only pushes the envelope of sonic and literary creativity, but seals it, pops a stamp on it, and recklessly entrusts it to the rigours of our ever-dubious postal services, all the way to the primary portals of our squishy brains and our flimsy domiciles.


Strategy 4. “The Unholy Trinity?”.
For reasons too convoluted to be expanded upon, I have experimented with playing both “Giraffe” and “The Old Album” simultaneously, with results which impressively augmented the affects of entertainment and pleasure herein aforementioned. Both albums were left to cycle for several hours, thus varying their points of overlap for each cycle. I honestly could not detect the join, and the two productions did not interfere with each other in any way, merely mating with unnatural vigour, to produce a new, improved Child Of Hades, more potent than even the aforementioned spawn of the abysmal “Richard & Widdecombe” combo.

I wonder if Pete Um can be tempted to release an “Unholy Trinity” comprised of all three albums re-mastered in “overlap” mode, for the more discerning, or terminally unbalanced among us?

In spite of Pete’s plethora of sleeve notes, appended to each release, I cannot claim to understand entirely where Um is coming from. I have a strange intuition that I must have spent some time there, and may be going again one day. Those who are bold enough to make a purchase on the strength of this review, and find themselves baffled upon receipt of the goods, will be well on the way to a revelation, and must buy more for true clarity. Those who make a purchase and find themselves irreparably disappointed can just lament the fact that they are sorely missing out on something very special. Nothing and no-one is immune to Um’s slash and burn treatment, and may we give thanks for the last remaining vestiges of liberty enjoyed by Britains creative community. Pull up a flagstone outside your home and plant something there.

Posted September 6, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

Frogstock: The Movie   Leave a comment

Well, I turned down two other gigs in favour of playing at Frogstock, and although I’ve returned home more than a hundred pounds in debt, and with a cracked rib, and even less robust than usual in physical and psychological terms shapewise (see, I’m babbling nonsense already) I still think I made the right decision. Why is this? Let’s do a list:

The sun shone.
That bit of Norfolk is fucking pretty.
The farm is a nice little bit of real estate.
All the Norfolk types I met seem to be really polite and friendly, even when pestering you endlessly (when yr trying to DJ) for drum & bass.
They had kegs of beer (proper real ale – everyone seemed to think it was homebrew, but it weren’t) at 50p a pint (which made a mockery of the 8 cans of Grolsch I’d lugged all the way there, almost missing my train to buy.
The organisers (Frog and his crew) are as nice a bunch of lads as you could hope to meet.
The sound people (who were doing it for free, with a great PA) were both likeable and skilled also.
I was embarrassingly well received.

I’m not going to turn this into an epic. I’ll just give you the key moments.

I did the tree thing but it wasn’t that special. I’d envisaged some stunted and weird old bushy tree that looked as though it might burst into flames at any given moment, and I’d hoped it would be sufficiently out of the way for me to be able to startle a few mushroomheads as they stumbled past. As it was however, the only suitable tree that they could get power to was situated behind and to the left of the main stage. It was also resplendent with lush green leaves. This meant that we have some footage of me hanging off branches within the gloomy interior of the foliage, which looks a bit forced and shit, and some, where Donna stands back to get some perspective, of a singing-Um-tree, which looks ridiculous. Ultimately, it didn’t really work. Nevertheless a small band of curious onlookers formed and some of them seemed to think it was reasonably marvellous. I did this tree gig at about 4 or 5PM, but I had another set on the proper stage at 9, and in between Simon and I played DAS EXPERIMENTALFUNKMUZIK in a sort of DISCO GAZEBO which we had erected, and everybody ignored us utterly, which was fair enough. I also got to meet the artist and drinker (he was on G&Ts, with ice, which looked just the ticket in the baking rural heat) Mark Quinn, who had made a special Um T-Shirt for me. I would have put it on but I was concerned that someone might take me for a cunt. In the meantime lots of local type bands played, and because I have a sort of fetish for amateurishness and a horror of the slick I developed a nice warm glow inside that felt as though it might translate later on into some kind of cocky set, which it did. The Gimps, of London, also played. They were all about a MC5 kind of tip, or maybe something looser and dirtier. Great stuff, but it seemed a bit transplanted under the glorious sunshine and in front of the Norfolk teens. More about The Gimps later.

Then eventually I get up and do the aforementioned cocky set. It doesn’t look anything special on the DV tape but sometimes THE ZONE cannot be caught on camera. At one point some local character, reputedly a legend in Frogstock terms, who seemed remarkably unconcerned about the missing plot in the drama that was his life, clambered unsteadily onto the stage to try and tell us all about the Masons and the Knights Templar. He was placid enough but had to be physically persuaded to get of the stage, whereupon he fell over. Things like this never get in the way of an Um performance because, of course, it’s all grist. Anyway, it went well, I was a cocky cock and, as done happen once in a while, they fucking loved it. The minute I got off I was surrounded by a mob seeking Um product. At the front of the mob was an excitable girl with a bottle of Pimms who wanted to know how old I was, what my real name was, and how come I was such a bloody brilliant artist. The rest of the mob was behind her clutching five and ten pound notes. I should have told her that I was 26, that my real name was Bobby Jesus, and that I had sold my soul to the devil in exchange for a minidisk player, or at least just savoured the moment, but instead I mumbled out the facts and was almost overwhelmed with the pure embarrassingness of it all. In addition:

I had my photo taken (with Pimms-girl).
I got my wallet snared up in my back pocket and so was obliged to talk to people over my shoulder and conduct financial transactions in the dark without any money whilst fielding queries and tributes from Miss Pimms. Later she emails me to tell me that her name is Sarah (Sarah Pimms?)
A bloke told me that his girlfriend had announced during my set that she wanted to marry me (to which I made some random remark about “not ruling anything out” which only served to increase the awkwardness).
Someone offered to buy my hat.
Someone bought several copies of Um single (duplicates to use as presents).
For the rest of the day I couldn’t walk across the field without someone shouting “Um!” or, in the case of Sarah Pimms, my real name.

Then Simon, Donna and I ate biscuits in the DISCO GAZEBO, felt cold and monged, and were asked by innumerable people for drum and bass. Many people also offered to get behind the decks and play drum and bass for us if we didn’t have any. It got to the stage where I was able to point out a young lad approaching the gazebo from about thirty yards away and predict with 100% accuracy that he would speak to us and ask the following question:

“Have you got any drum and bass, mate?”

The funny thing about your Norfolk drum and basshead is that they display a friendly reasonableness that is almost disquieting. No sooner had you apologetically informed them that you were unable to oblige them with their fix of the only possible style of music that would make them dance, namely the most ruffneck of d&b, and fully expecting them to spit on your slipmats and cuss out your Mum, than they would put their hand on your shoulder and say something like: (and it’s a good job I’m typing here because my Norfolk accent wavers between Somerset and Sri Lanka) “No worries mate, but if you don’t ask you don’t get, see?”

I dunno. I just noticed a lot of strange friendliness going about, and it startled me. The next day at Thetford station a group of teenage ne’er-do-wells who had been up all night on chemical drugs engaged an elderly couple in an interaction that started as a pisstake, but quickly turned into a mutual banter session, and before long the old boy was telling the cheeky imps stories about the difficulties involved in holding onto your tobacco during rationing. He advised the substitution of manure, but only in the portion smoked by your blagging mates. Anyway when I’ve suffered comedowns, historically speaking, I can’t even talk to my friends or even look at myself in the mirror, let alone seek out social intercourse with pensioners. On the same note I also witnessed an exchange between a punter, similarly drug-raddled, at Pete’s Munchies burger van, and Pete himself on the Frogstock site. The young guy was doing that thing where the only part of your brain that is still awake is the bit that is chewing its way through the last of the Ecstasy, and it shows clearly on your face, because your eyes are completely fucked. Despite this (and making no effort to disguise it – in fact he kept remarking in oblique terms how utterly buggered he was) he was able to join in with an extremely amusing mutual pisstake banter session with old Pete, who must have been at least sixty. As he struggled to extract a consumer choice out of Pete’s various breakfast bill of fare (innumerable combinations of animal products in baps) Pete, a man who evidently didn’t mind serving people as long as they didn’t expect him to act like their servant, with a strange mixture of irritation and endless patience, or even a sor
t of agreeable contempt, suggested that he might enjoy an all day breakfast. “I might do”, replied the young man, “only I’m not sure I’ve got all day.”

More soon; when I’ll tell you about the cracked rib. I didn’t fall drunkenly out of the tree, so how did I do it?

Posted September 1, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized