The thoughts of Will have arrived.   Leave a comment

I haven’t mentioned that a couple of Um tunes are on a compilation made by the good people at Blang, promoters at the 12 Bar Club and elsewhere. There’s a review of it here:

which says:

Various Fruit Machine – 26 Seeds From The London Underground Blang. Article written by Will M Sep 27, 2005.

Now this is a faaantastic little oddity, a comp, compiled by the organisers of the monthly “Blang” club night, somewhere or other in London. They claim that they aim to rescue the ailing British music scene from “deadly dull guitar bands”, apparently with the help of this motley crew of freaks, misfits and folk singers. A group of individuals so lo-fi that they make Art Brut seem like stadium-raping sellouts. And they’re really quite magnificent.

Still, Blang have picked possibly the most objectionable, divisive track to open it. Milk Kan’s “Bling Bling Baby” is “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, as narrated in real proper apples’n’pears Cockney, by a man who sounds like he should be flogging you a copy of the Standard in a vaguely threatening way. It’s kinda endearing, but it itches like hell, and if you found Damon Albarn’s mid-90’s everyblokegeezerpersona punchable, Milk Kan will quite probably cause you to wish nuclear destruction on the good people of East London.

It says a great deal about the general obscurantism of this compilation that Cambridge tumbleweed-botherers The Broken Family Band are considered “the big names”. Impeccably melancholic though their contribution is, it’s outshone by offshoot band the Adams, with their dirtily-recorded, but delicately chugging instant classic “I Can Do Nothing”.

But there’s sooo much else to sing the praises of on this cd. Blang curator Sergeant Buzfuz donates a sparse slice of string-haunted modern urban angst, like Nick Cave on the dole and Anna Page’s spiky “Pill” comes on like a older, wittier Ash. Unfairly unsung unofficial London laureate, Chris T-T also weighs in heavily, with his warm, involving, twangy sound and tales of NHS meltdown, personal failure and “fucking in libraries”. He knows he’s doomed but celebrates his marginalisation.

Modern pop radio listeners may find the scratchy sound and unrefined tunes rub like steelwool on the ears, and admittedly it’s as hit-and-miss as any respectable compilation. Partition’s “Not Before Time” proves conclusively that, yes, there should be a law against bartender-types “singing” and Um’s two contributions are little more than the omnipresent skits on a hip-hop record – irritating, painfully unfunny and mercifully short.

You can’t really dance to this underground, but these low-budget thrills can amuse, move and bewilder like little else out there. But in one of Chris T-T’s most perceptive lyrics, he warns, “a city like this has a cold shoulder for little people with crazy schemes”, and he might just as well be talking about the music industry. Because, brilliant though much of it is, the bands and singers of Fruit Machine, are, by and large, too abrasive, too bleak or simply too dictionary-mashing random for a shot at the big time (or even the really quite small even by indie standards-time).

Although, thinking about it, there’s no real reason why this shouldn’t be in the charts just because it isn’t buffed to a precision-tooled, radio-slick sheen. If quality does indeed out, then we’re all ready for an invasion from these barhanging lovelorn losers, with their oddball ideas and fell-offa-back-offa-lorry instrumentation.
So, to paraphrase the aforementioned Art Brut:
Sergeant Buzfuz – TOP OF THE POPS!

Yeah but no but…

Actually I’ve seen another review of the same compilation in The Big Issue, which totally trashes the thing (giving it one star out of five) but singles my tunes out for praise. One chap’s meat is another’s poisoned, dictionary-mashing cock I suppose, but its all grist round here. I’ve just got something in my eye…

Posted October 2, 2005 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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